Q:在 I don’t know what to do. 這句中,what to do 是當 know 的受詞,那麼它是不是某個句子的減化呢? 若是,它的原句為何呢?

A:what, which, when, where, who, whom, whose, how 等 wh-字和 whether 的後面都可以接不定詞來用作名詞片語。既然是名詞片語,那麼它們一定是從名詞子句減化 (reduce) 而來,換言之,它們的原句都是名詞子句。用英文來表達就是:A noun phrase is a reduction of a noun clause.。

在進入主題之前,我們先來談關係子句 (形容詞子句) 的一個減化規則,那就是若子句中含有 should, would, must, can, may 等情態助動詞 (modals or modal auxiliaries),那麼句子減化時須將情態助動詞變成不定詞。例如:

The man to remember (= whom you/we/everyone should remember) is Bill. (吾人應該記得的人是比爾)

這規則亦適用於名詞子句。所以,「wh-字 + 不定詞」的原句一定含有情態助動詞。然而,「wh-字 + 不定詞」中的不定詞只有「應該」或「能」的含義,亦即它們只對應 should 或 can/could (現在式用 can,過去式用 could),並無其他情態助動詞的意思。例如:

  • I don’t know what to do. (我不知道做什麼)
  • I don’t know what I should do. (我不知道我該做什麼)
  • Wendy found two smartphones she liked, but she had difficulty deciding which one to buy. (溫蒂發現兩支她都喜歡的智慧型手機,但她難以決定買哪一支)
  • Wendy found two smartphones she liked, but she had difficulty deciding which one she should buy. (溫蒂發現兩支她都喜歡的智慧型手機,但她難以決定她該買哪一支)
  • Tony can’t decide whether to hang out with his friends or (to) stay home tonight. (東尼不能決定今晚是要和朋友廝混在一起還是留在家裡)
  • Tony can’t decide whether he should hang out with his friends or stay home tonight. (東尼不能決定今晚他該和朋友廝混在一起還是留在家裡)
  • Please tell me how to find these reference books? (請告訴我怎樣找到這些參考書)
  • Please tell me how I can find these reference books? (請告訴我怎樣我才能找到這些參考書)
  • Professor Lee told me how to teach English. (李教授告訴我怎樣教英文)
  • Professor Lee told me how I could teach English. (李教授告訴我怎樣我才能教英文)

在上面這五組例句中,各組兩句的意思並無不同。

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