Q: I told you he was going to come to the party. 這句明明是過去式,為何使用表示未來的 be going to 呢?

A:類似 I told you he was going to come to the party. (我告訴你他會來參加聚會) 這樣的句子,我們可以稱之為「過去的未來式」(future in the past);它們是用來表示在過去某個時間點你認為某事未來會發生。至於你的想法或看法是否正確則不重要。這種句型在英文中頗為常見。茲將它們的幾個重點敘述如下:

1. 與簡單未來式 (simple future) 一樣,「過去的未來式」有兩個不同的型態:would 和 was/were going to。

  • I told him I would help him later. (我告訴他稍後會協助他)
  • I knew John was secretly going to meet Jane after the party. (我知道約翰將在聚會後偷偷地和珍見面)

2. 「過去的未來式」遵守簡單未來式的基本用法規則,即 would 的基本用法與 will 一樣,而 was/were going to 的基本用法與 am/is/are going to 相同。

  • He promised he would send a postcard from Egypt. (他承諾會從埃及寄來明信片)
  • I had a feeling (that) the vacation was going to be a disaster. (我覺得這個假期將是一場災難)

3. 與所有未來式一樣,「過去的未來式」不能用在以 when, while, before, after, by the time, as soon as, if 和 unless 等開頭的副詞子句或時間子句中,亦即在這些子句中不能使用 would/will/be going to。

  • I already told Mark that when he arrived, we would go out for dinner. (我已經告訴馬克,在他到達時,我們將外出吃晚餐) (正)
  • I already told Mark that when he would arrive, we would go out for dinner. (誤)
  • Sally asked if I was going to go to class late. (莎莉問我上課是否會遲到) (正) — 在這句中,if (= whether) 所引導的子句是名詞子句而非副詞子句。

此外,由於在英文中我們可以使用現在進行式來表示不久的將來 (in the near future) 要發生的事件,所以「過去的未來式」亦有可能以過去進行式的型態出現。例如,下面兩句也是「過去的未來式」:

  • She was aware of the fact that we were meeting after class. (她知道我們下課後要碰面)
  • I told my mom I was having dinner with some friends after work. (我告訴我媽媽下班後要跟一些朋友聚餐)
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