Cereal vs. serial

Cereal 主要用作名詞,意為「穀物,穀類植物;穀類食品,麥片」,如 I’ve just bought a box of cereal. (我剛買了一盒麥片)。這個字亦可當形容詞用,意為「穀類的;穀類製成的」,如 cereal crops (穀類作物)。大多數字典都僅將它列為名詞,複數為 cereals,如 breakfast cereals (早餐穀類食品;早餐麥片);形容詞用法僅能在少數字典中找到。Cereal 源自意為 grain (穀物,穀粒) 的拉丁字 cerealis。

Serial 同樣可當形容詞和名詞用,但形容詞用法比較常見。Serial 當形容詞時意為「(重大罪犯或重大犯罪) 連環的,連續的;一系列的;一連串的;序列的」。這個字僅能用在名詞前面來修飾名詞,不可用在 BE 動詞之後當補語,如 This is a thriller about a brutal serial killer/murderer. (這是一部有關一名殘忍冷血的連環殺手/連續殺人犯的驚悚小說);serial killings/murders (連環謀殺/連續殺人 (案));a serial sex offender (連續性侵犯);a serial complaint (一連串的抱怨);a serial number (序號,編號);serial files (按順序整理的文件)。

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Cent vs. scent vs. sent

Cent 僅當名詞用,意為「分」,是美國、加拿大及其他一些國家面額最小的貨幣單位,等於 dollar (元) 的 1%,亦即 100 cents = 1 dollar。Cent 源自拉丁文的 centum,意為「一百」。Cent- 迄今仍被用作表示一百的字首,如 centenarian (百歲人瑞)、centenary/centennial (美) (一百週年;一百週年紀念)。

Scent 用作名詞時意為「氣味,通常指香味;香水;(人或動物的) 氣味;線索,蹤跡;跡象」,其中除了「香水」為不可數名詞外,其餘意思皆為可數名詞,如 The sweet fresh scent of newly baked bread filled the shop. (剛出爐的麵包香味瀰漫著整間店);People like the food with a rich flavor and scent. (人們都喜歡味道甘美、香氣濃郁的食物);The girl wore/put on too much scent. (那女孩擦太多香水了);Police dogs easily picked up the murderer’s scent in the forest. (警犬在森林裡輕易就嗅出殺人犯的氣味);He’s got a strong scent of anxiety. (他出現了焦慮的強烈跡象);We were soon on the scent of the enemy. (我們很快就追蹤到/掌握了敵人的蹤跡);The enemy managed to throw us off the scent. (敵人成功地使我們失去了追蹤的方向/線索)。

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Cell vs. sell

Cell 是個名詞,且僅當名詞用,意為「細胞;電池;(監獄的) 小牢房;(修道院或寺廟的) 小房間;(蜂巢的) 巢室;(電腦) 儲存格;(政黨或政治團體的) 基層組織,小組」,如 Human brains have more than 100 million cells per cubic centimeter. (人腦每立方公分有一億多個細胞);blood/brain/nerve/cancer cells (血球/腦細胞/神經細胞/癌細胞);Samsung Electronics is recalling its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and said that battery cell problems were behind phones catching fire and exploding. (AFP) (三星電子將回收該公司的 Galaxy Note 7 旗艦機,並表示電池問題是手機起火和爆炸的主因);The sinister and dangerous prisoner was locked in a cell. (那個兇惡危險的囚犯被關在單人牢房裡)。

根據《牛津英語大辭典》(The Oxford English Dictionary, OED),cell 是英文最常用的 1,000 個單字之一。除了上述意思外,cell 在美國亦被用作 cellphone (手機) 的簡稱,常用於口語,如 I just bought a new cell yesterday, Samsung Galaxy Note 7, but it exploded during charging. (我昨天剛買了一支新手機,三星 Galaxy Note 7,但在充電時爆炸了)。

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Cede vs. seed

Cede 是個及物動詞,意為「(尤指不情願地或被迫) 割讓,讓與,放棄」,其時態變化為 cede ceded ceded ceding cedes,如 Taiwan was ceded to Japan after First Sino-Japanese War. (中日甲午戰爭後台灣被割讓給日本);The military government has agreed to cede power to the country’s newly inaugurated leader. (軍政府已同意把政權交給新就任的領導人)。

Seed 可當名詞和動詞用,前者意為「種子,籽;(網球等運動的) 種子選手、球員」及比喻用法的「原因;根源」,如 Sow/Plant the seeds in the fields. (在田裡播種);the top/first/number one seed (頭號種子選手/球員);Jack was punished for sowing seeds of discord in his class. (傑克因在班上挑撥離間而受到處罰)。

Seed 用作動詞 (及物和不及物) 時,及物動詞意為「播種;使成為種子選手 (由此衍生出形容詞 seeded,如 a seeded player 種子選手);去除水果等的籽」,通常用被動態,而不及物動詞主要意為「(植物) 結籽」,其時態變化為 seed seeded seeded seeding seeds,如 The fields have been seeded with corn. (田裡已種了玉米);Justin was seeded number two. (賈斯汀被排為第 2 號種子選手);Justin was seeded second/third/tenth/8/15. (賈斯汀被排為第 2/3/10/8/15 號種子選手)。This flower seeds in (the) autumn. (這花秋天結籽)。Wash, seed, and cut the bitter melons into small pieces. (把這些苦瓜洗一洗,去籽並切成小片) - 苦瓜的英文還可叫做 bitter gourd、bitter squash 或 balsam pear。

Lessen vs. lesson

Lessen 是個動詞 (及物與不及物),意為「(使) 減輕;(使) 降低;(使) 減少;(使) 變小」,如 The medicine will lessen the pain. (這藥會使疼痛減輕);His fever has lessened. (他的燒退了);The negotiations lessened the tension between Russia and Ukraine. (談判緩和了俄羅斯和烏克蘭的緊張局勢)。這個字的時態變化為 lessen, lessened, lessened, lessening, lessens。

Lesson 是個名詞,意為「課,一節課/一堂課,(教科書中的) 一課,課程;教訓」,如 These students study English, Spanish and other language lessons. (這些學生學英文、西班牙文及其他語言課程);Lesson Five is very boring. (第五課枯燥乏味);That guy needs to be taught a lesson. (那個傢伙得被教訓一頓);Many people have not learned their lesson and continue to drive under the influence. (許多人沒有記取/得到教訓,繼續酒後開車)。

Cache vs. cash

Cache 用作名詞時意為「貯藏物,隱藏物;貯藏所,隱藏處,藏匿處」,如 The police have seized a huge cache of drugs/explosives/weapons. (警方查獲了一大批藏匿的毒品/炸藥/武器);The gang of armed robbers has several caches for illegal guns and homemade bombs. (該武裝搶劫集團有數個窩藏非法槍枝和土製炸彈的場所)。Cache 也是重要的電腦名詞,可指存取速度比動態隨機存取記憶體 (DRAM) 快的「快取記憶體」或資料存取速度較快的「快取」。

Cache 亦可當 (及物) 動詞用,意為「貯藏,隱藏,藏匿」,其時態變化為 cache cached cached caching caches,如 The gangsters cached a large quantity of ammunition in a remote cabin. (那些黑幫份子在偏遠的一間小木屋窩藏了大量彈藥)。

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Brake vs. break

Brake 可當名詞和動詞用,前者意為1.「(車輛的) 制動器,煞車」2.「抑制;阻礙」。Brake 的名詞第 1 義通常用複數,如 The brakes failed and the car crashed into the median strip/the central reservation. (煞車失靈,車子撞上安全島);I heard a screech/squeal of brakes as the taxi pulled up. (計程車停下來時我聽到一聲尖銳刺耳的煞車聲);We heard the brakes screeching/squealing and then a loud crash. (我們聽到一陣尖銳刺耳的煞車聲,然後是一聲巨大的撞擊聲);Mr. Huang saw a girl run out, so he hit the brakes/he slammed on the brakes. (黃先生看見一名女孩跑了出來,所以就緊急煞車)。Brake 的名詞第 2 義通常用單數,其後往往接介系詞 on 再接受詞,如 The government decided to put a brake on price rises. (政府決定控制物價上漲);The high level of debt acted as a brake on economic recovery. (高額的負債阻礙了經濟復甦)。

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Bolder vs. boulder

Bolder 為形容詞 bold 的比較級 (最高級為 boldest),而 bold 主要意為「(人或行為) 勇敢的,大膽的,無畏的;(人或行為) 冒失的,無禮的,放肆的;顯眼的,醒目的,輪廓清晰的」。所以,在翻譯 bolder 時,只要在這些意思之前加上「更」或「比較」即可,如 The government should take bolder actions to stimulate economic growth. (政府應採取比較大膽的行動來刺激經濟成長);Mary’s remarks are a lot bolder than usual. (瑪麗的言論比平常來得放肆許多);Bright and bold colors will attract a lot of attention. (鮮豔和醒目的顏色會吸引很多人注意)。

Boulder 是個名詞,意為「巨石;大圓石」,如 Heavy rains were responsible for a huge boulder falling onto the mountain road and blocking traffic. (大雨是一塊巨石掉落在那條山路而阻礙交通的原因);The mountaineers heard the sounds of roaring water rushing past boulders in the river. (登山客聽到咆哮的河水奔騰流過大圓石的聲音)。美國科羅拉多州波德市 (Boulder,又稱圓石市) 的名稱源自波德溪 (Boulder Creek),該溪因擁有巨大的圓石而聞名。

Bite vs. byte vs. bight

Bite 可用作動詞 (及物與不及物) 和名詞 (可數與不可數)。Bite 當動詞時主要意為「咬,咬斷;(蛇等動物或昆蟲) 咬,叮,蜇;(魚) 吞餌,上鉤,(人) 上當;產生不良影響或後果」,如 My neighbor’s dog bit me the other day. (我鄰居的狗幾天前咬了我);Stop biting your nails. (別咬指甲);We’re usually bitten by mosquitoes in the night. (我們經常在夜裡被蚊子叮);The fish just aren’t biting today. (魚兒今天就是不上鉤);I tried to sell Allen my knock-off wallet but he wouldn’t bite. (我試圖把我的山寨版錢包賣給艾倫,但他不願上當);The new higher taxes are beginning to bite. (新的較高稅收開始產生不良的影響)。這個動詞的時態變化為 bite bit bitten biting bites。

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Better vs. bettor

Better 可當形容詞、副詞、名詞和動詞用。Better 當形容詞和副詞時分別為 good 和 well 的比較級 (最高級為 best),前者意為「更好的,較佳的,好轉的」等等,後者意為「更好地,更適當地,較大程度地」等等,如 Mary went to Taipei, hoping to find a better job. (瑪麗去台北,希望找到一份更好的工作);Nothing could be better! (再好不過了!);The situation’s no better. (情況沒有好轉);If you want to get better, you have to take your medicine. (你若想康復就必須服藥);Is his stomachache any better? (他的胃痛好些了嗎?);Why was it that everyone else did better than me in the exams? (為什麼其他每個人都考得比我好呢?);We’d better keep silent. (我們最好還是保持緘默);I like Charlotte better than Anna. (比起安娜來,我更喜歡夏洛特)。

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