First、firstly 還是 at first 呢?

First 可當形容詞和副詞用,前者意為「第一的;最早的;最初的;最先的」,而後者意為「第一;首先;首次;最先;最初」。例如:

形容詞

  • Your first year at university can be quite frightening and exciting at the same time. (你上大學的頭一年可能恐懼和刺激兼而有之)
  • Why didn’t you seek help from the police in the first place? (你為何不先求助於警方呢?)

副詞

  • You (go) first! (你先請!)
  • When did the idiom first appear? (這個成語首次出現在什麼時候?)
  • He finished first in math, second in English, and third in fine arts. (他獲得數學第一名、英文第二名、美術第三名)

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Loose vs. lose

Loose 主要當形容詞用,意為「寬鬆的;鬆動的;鬆散的;鬆弛的;疏鬆的;鬆軟的;不受束縛的,未予控制的;零散的;散裝的;不準確的;(組織) 不嚴密的;(糞便等) 稀的」等,如 Linda always wears loose garments. (琳達總是穿著寬鬆的衣服);I have got two loose teeth. (我有兩顆牙齒鬆動了);My shoelace is loose. (我的鞋帶鬆了);These seven countries have established a loose alliance. (這七個國家已建立一個鬆散聯盟);They let the dogs loose on the intruders. (他們放狗攻擊闖入者);They let the children loose on the cellphones. (他們讓小孩隨便玩手機);The movie actress managed to break/get/shake loose from her kidnappers. (那位女電影明星成功地掙脫綁匪的控制);The kidnappers had let/set/turned the movie actress loose on a dark country lane. (綁匪在一條黑暗的鄉間小路釋放了那位女電影明星);loose soil/stones (鬆土/碎石);loose change (零錢);Loose cigarettes are 5 pesos each. (散裝/零賣的香菸每支五披索);There were a few loose sheets of paper lying on the ground. (有幾張紙散落在地板上);It’s only a loose translation of the English song. (這只是那首英文歌曲不準確的翻譯);I had loose bowels (or I had diarrhea) all day long yesterday. (我昨天一整天都在拉肚子)。

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Q:Be full of 和 be filled with 可以互換嗎?

A:這兩個動詞片語雖都意為「充滿,裝滿」,但含意並不相同,所以不能互換。

Full of 中的 full 為形容詞,意為「滿的」,但 full of 的含意是 having or containing a lot of things or people or a lot of something,而 filled with 的含意是 making something full 或 becoming full of something,其中 filled 為動詞 fill 的過去分詞形容詞。由此可知,在這兩個片語中,只有 be filled with 能表達真正裝得滿滿沒有剩下任何空間的意思,而 be full of 是表示含有或裝有很多東西、許多人或大量的某種東西,相當於「都是;滿是」的意思。例如:

  • The room was full of books. (這個房間都是書) (正)
    The room was filled with books. (誤) - 除非這個房間沒有其他任何東西,而且書籍從地板疊到天花板,整個房間都堆滿書,這句才講得通。
  • The restaurant is always full of customers. (這家餐廳總是門庭若市) (正)
    The restaurant is always filled with customers. (誤) - 除非這家餐廳的客人摩肩接踵,大家擠成一堆,沒有任何移動或用餐空間,這句才講得通。
  • His trousers are full of holes. (他的褲子都是洞) (正) - 褲子上有許多洞。
  • Her essay was full of grammatical errors. (她的論文滿是文法錯誤) (正) - 論文中有許多文法錯誤。
  • Her eyes were full of tears. (她眼中滿是淚水) (正)
  • Her eyes were filled with tears. (她眼淚盈眶) (正)
  • The room is filled with smoke. (這個房間煙霧瀰漫) (正)

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Drop-dead, drop dead, drop dead!

這三個詞都是由 drop 和 dead 所構成,但意思卻截然不同。Drop-dead 意為「迷死人的,美艷動人的,極為引人注目的」,是個形容詞,通常用來修飾名詞。Drop-dead 往往與 gorgeous 連用來表示相同的意思,即 drop-dead gorgeous。它是美國在 1960 年代初期創造的,主要源於時裝業。注意:Drop-dead 為形容詞,須有連字號,俾與 drop dead 有所區別。

Drop dead 意為「暴斃;猝死」,是個動詞。除字面意思外,它還可以用於比喻,意為「絕倒」。

Drop dead! 意為「滾開!」,是個感嘆詞,與 get lost! 和 bug off! 同義。這個俚語是美國在 1930 年代所創造的。

例句:

  • Even the most drop-dead woman will grow old. (即使是最美的女人也會變老)
  • The actress looks drop-dead gorgeous. (那位女星看起來美艷動人)
  • He dropped dead on the treadmill at the age of 32. (他猝死在跑步機上,年僅 32 歲)
  • Everybody would drop dead laughing no matter what he said. (不管他說什麼,每個人都為之絕倒,笑得要死)
  • Oh, just drop dead! (哦,滾開!)
  • “Drop dead!” shouted John to his friends who were bothering him. (「滾開!」約翰對他那些來搗蛋的朋友們喊道)

Skinny, slim, thin (adjs.)

這三個形容詞均有「瘦」的意思,但含意並不相同,使用時不可不慎,以免鬧笑話。譬如說,在 The little boy was as thin as a lath. (這小男孩骨瘦如柴) 這句中,thin 不能用 skinny 或 slim 來代替,因為 as thin as a lath 表示「骨瘦如柴」,為慣用語。

Skinny 意為「骨瘦如柴的,皮包骨的」,表示太瘦,過瘦,骨瘦如柴,瘦得皮包骨,如 Henry is always really skinny. (亨利向來骨瘦如柴);He’s a skinny little guy. (他是個皮包骨的小傢伙);Benjamin is tall and skinny. (班傑明個子高高的,但太瘦了)。

Slim 意為「苗條的,修長的,纖細的」,是指苗條的瘦,瘦得好看,如 Teresa has a slim, youthful figure. (泰瑞莎身材苗條,充滿青春活力);Most ballet dancers are wonderfully slim. (大多數芭蕾舞者都非常苗條);Nearly all girls want to be slim. (幾乎所有女孩都想身材苗條)。

Thin 意為「瘦的」,是形容一個人瘦的常用詞,有時指因病、過勞、營養不良而缺乏一般正常的肌肉,如 Her illness made her thin. (她的病使她消瘦了);John has a thin face. (約翰有一張清瘦的臉);Philip is thin and tall. (菲立普又瘦又高)。

英文中還有個字可表示「苗條的、修長的」意思,那就是 slender,但 slender 用得比較少。

Content 還是 contents 呢?

Content 主要當名詞和形容詞用,用作名詞時有攸關對錯的單複數之分,即 content 和 contents,因為兩者的意思和用法皆不同,使用時不可不慎。單數的 content 是個不可數名詞,意為「(文章、電影、電視節目、演講等的) 內容);(網站、光碟、隨身碟等的) 內容」。例如:

  • This film’s adult content is not suitable for young children. (這部電影的成人內容對兒童不宜) (正)
    This film’s adult contents are not suitable for young children. (誤)
  • Several well-known websites have closed down because of the high cost of producing original content. (數個知名網站因製作原創內容的成本過高而關門大吉了) (正)
    Several well-known websites have closed down because of the high cost of producing original contents. (誤)

除上述意思外,單數的 content 還意為「(物質) 含量」,但這個 content 卻是可數名詞,只是要用單數,沒有複數型。例如:

  • Chocolate has a high fat content; it’s not good for your health. (巧克力的脂肪含量很高,對你的健康無益) (正)
    Chocolate has high fat contents; it’s not good for your health. (誤)
  • John usually eats a breakfast cereal with a high sugar content. (約翰經常吃含糖量很高的早餐麥片) (正)
    John usually eats a breakfast cereal with high sugar contents. (誤)
  • The vitamin and mineral content of fruit and vegetables is high. (蔬果的維生素和礦物質含量很高) (正)
    The vitamin and mineral contents of fruit and vegetables are high. (誤)

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Lipid vs. limpid

Lipid 意為「(生物體內的) 脂質」,是個可數名詞,如 The cell membranes around skin cells need fatty acids (found in lipids) to prevent water from evaporating from the skin or moving out of the cell. (皮膚細胞周圍的細胞膜需要脂質中的脂肪酸來防止皮膚水分的蒸發或細胞水分的流失) (The Miami Herald)。脂質是一種有機化合物,許多天然脂肪、油、臘都含有脂質。它可溶解於酒精等有機溶劑,但無法溶於水。Lipid 源自法文字 lipide,而後者又源自希臘字 lipos,意為「脂肪;油脂」(fat, grease)。

Limpid 是個形容詞,意為「清澈的;透明的;(文章等) 表達清楚的,明白易懂的」,如 There is a limpid pool in the garden. (花園裡有個清澈的池塘);His prose is limpid. (他的散文清晰易懂)。這個字衍生出 limpidity (名詞:清澈;透明)、limpidness (名詞:清澈;清晰) 和 limpidly (副詞:清澈地;透明地;清晰地) 等字。Limpid 源自法文字 limpide,而後者又源自拉丁字 limpidus,意為「清澈的;透明的;清晰的」(clear)。

bazaar 和 bizarre 之對與錯

  • A bazaar was held for the benefit of the victims of the strong earthquake. (為強震災民舉辦義賣) (正)
  • A bizarre was held for the benefit of the victims of the strong earthquake. (誤)

解說:Bazaar 是個名詞,意為「(尤指中東和南亞的) 市場,市集;(為了募款的) 義賣,尤指舊貨義賣」。Bizarre 為形容詞,意為「古怪的,奇異的」,如 bizarre behavior (古怪的行為);bizarre clothes (奇裝異服)。

Tall 還是 high 呢?

Tall 和 high 這兩個形容詞都意為「高的」,但 tall 是用來指人、建築物以及會長高的東西,而 high 則用來指高山以及離地面有一段頗長距離的東西。例如:

  • James is thin and tall. (詹姆斯又瘦又高) (正)
    James is thin and high. (誤)
  • It’s the world’s tallest tower. (那是世界最高的大樓)
  • It’s the highest mountain in the world. (那是世界最高的山)
  • The plants were two meters tall. (這些植物有 2 公尺高)
  • There are many tall trees in our school. (我們學校有許多高樹)
  • The light switch is too high for a child to use. (電燈開關對小孩來說太高了,碰觸不到)
  • There is a high ceiling in my office. (我辦公室的天花板很高)
  • John built a 3-meter-high wall around his house. (約翰在他房子的四周築起了 3 公尺高的圍牆)
  • How tall are they? (他們身高有多高?)
  • How high are they? (他們距地面有多高?)

Ironic, sarcastic (adjs.)

Ironic 和 sarcastic 這兩個形容詞均有「諷刺的」意思,但兩者的含意並不相同,使用時不可不慎。譬如說,在 The teacher’s sarcastic comment about Cindy’s essay made her cry. (老師對辛蒂作文的嘲諷評論使她哭了起來) 這句中,sarcastic 不能用 ironic 來代替,因為 sarcastic 表示苟刻傷人的嘲諷。

Ironic 意為「諷刺的,具有諷刺意味的」,表示用反話來表達與其字面意思相異或相反的反諷,指比較無傷大雅,比較幽默、揶揄的諷刺,如 John had a habit of making ironic remarks. (約翰有說帶諷刺意味的話的習慣);It was ironic that Gary was run over by his own car. (蓋瑞竟被自己的車子輾過,真是諷刺);She has written several ironic novels. (她已寫了數本諷刺小說);She met his eyes with an ironic little smile. (她對他報以揶揄的淺笑)。

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