Q:下列兩句的意思有何不同? (1) Class is supposed to begin at 10: 00. (2) Class was supposed to begin at 10: 00.

A:be supposed to 表示的是一種預期 (expectation) 的情況:現在式的 be supposed to 意為「應該」,因此語意上相當於 should 或 ought to (ought to 的語氣比 should 來得強);過去式的 be supposed to 意為「本該發生的事,但實際上卻沒發生」,因此相當於 should have + P.P. 或 ought to have + P.P.。

第 (1) 句的意思是說,課應該在 10 點開始上 (預期);而第 (2) 句的意思是說,課原本應該在 10 點開始上,但事實卻沒有 (即預期沒有實現),所以這相當於,譬如說,Class was supposed to begin at 10: 00, but it didn’t begin until 10: 15. (課原本應該在 10 點開始上,但直到 10 點 15 分才上)。我們亦可用下面的句子來表達相同的意思:

  • Class should have begun at 10: 00 (but it didn’t begin until 10: 15).
  • Class ought to have begun at 10: 00 (but it didn’t begin until 10: 15).

be supposed to 除了上述的意思外,還有一個頗為常見的意思,那就是「一般認為」(to be generally believed/considered)。請看下句:

  • It is generally believed that mice are afraid of cats. (一般認為老鼠怕貓)

這種以 it 做假主詞或形式主詞來代表其後 that 所引導的名詞子句的句型,在英文中用得很多,應該加以熟悉。現在我們使用 be supposed to 來改寫如下:

  • Mice are supposed to be afraid of cats. (老鼠應該怕貓)

若不用 be supposed to,這句也可以改成:

  • Mice are generally believed to be afraid of cats. (一般認為老鼠怕貓)

大多數的 “It…that” 句型都可以如上述地加以改寫,其方式就是將名詞子句的主詞拿來當句子的主詞,並將名詞子句的動詞變成 to-不定詞。最後要提的是,supposed to 中的 d 不發音,它的發音就跟 suppose to 一樣,但在拼寫時切記不可漏掉 “d”。

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