Q:(a) Most books (b) Most my books (c) Most of my books are in English. 這三句何者正確呢?

A:Most 這個字可當形容詞和代名詞用,若為形容詞,其後直接接名詞,如 Most birds can fly. (大多數的鳥都會飛),所以 (a) Most books are in English. (大部分的書都是英文書) 這句是對的。在這句中,名詞 books 並非指特定的書,如「我的書」、「這些書」、「那張桌子上的書」,而是泛指 (generic) 一般的書。

當 most 用作代名詞時,其後往往接介詞 of 再接特定或特指的 (specific) 名詞。所謂特指的名詞,就是名詞的前面加上 the, that, this, these, those 或所有格,如 my, his, their, Jack’s, Thomas’ 等等。所以 (c) Most of my books are in English. 也是正確的句子;換言之,(b) Most my books are in English. 這句是錯的,因為如果名詞是特指,most 後面的 of 不能省略。然而,如果名詞是泛指,則 most 後面就不能有 of,這就是上述 most 當形容詞用,後面直接接名詞的情況,所以 Most of books are in English. 也是錯的。

英文中這種兼具形容詞 (或限定詞) 和代名詞功能且用法與 most 完全相同的字或片語,還有 all (of), both (of), some (of), any (of), many (of), much (of), a few (of), a little (of), several (of), one (of), two (of), three (of) … 等等。例如:

  • Many students are going to study abroad. (正) (許多學生要出國留學)
    Many of my students are going to study abroad. (正) (我的學生當中有許多人要出國留學)
    Many my students are going to study abroad. (誤)
    Many of students are going to study abroad. (誤)
  • Some people are Chinese tourists. (正) (有些人是中國觀光客)
    Some of those people are Chinese tourists. (正) (那些人當中有些是中國觀光客)
    Some those people are Chinese tourists. (誤)
    Some of people are Chinese tourists. (誤)
  • Several windows were broken. (正) (有幾扇窗戶被砸破了)
    Several of the windows were broken. (正)
    Several the windows were broken. (誤)
    Several of windows were broken. (誤)

值得注意的是,當名詞為特指時,all 和 both 這兩個字後面的 of 可以省略,亦即它們後面的 of 可有可無。不過,若名詞為泛指,則其後同樣不可有 of。例如:

  • Almost all of my students are female. (正) (我的學生幾乎都是女生)
    Almost all my students are female. (正)
    All children deserve encouragement. (正) (所有的小孩都應得到鼓勵)
    All of children deserve encouragement. (誤)
  • I know both of his parents. (正) (我認識他的父母親)
    I know both his parents. (正)
    Both paintings are by the same artist. (正) (兩幅畫都是同一畫家畫的)
    Both of paintings are by the same artist. (誤)

最後要提的是,half 這個亦可當形容詞 (或限定詞) 和代名詞用的字,若接特指的名詞,其用法與 all 和 both 相同,亦即後面的 of 也是可有可無。例如:

  • Half of the children study Japanese. (正) (這些孩子當中有一半學日文)
    Half the children study Japanese. (正)
  • Nearly half of the employees complained of stress. (正) (近半數的員工抱怨壓力太大)
    Nearly half the employees complained of stress. (正)
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