After 和 behind 的用法差異

After 主要當介系詞、副詞和連接詞用,而 behind 則主要當介系詞和副詞用。這兩個字的用法可謂「小同大異」,除了有個地方可以互換之外,其他用法皆大異其趣、截然不同。

After 用作介系詞時意為「在 … 之後,在 … 以後;在 … 後面;隨 … 之後」,是指時間的先後順序。例如:

  • After graduation Allen is going to study abroad. (艾倫畢業後要出國留學)
  • We’re planning to meet at half after ten. (我們打算十點半見面)
  • After you, please. (您先請)
  • After you with the computer, please. (請您用完電腦後給我用)
  • Mary came in after John. (瑪麗在約翰之後進來)
  • Paul slammed the door after him. (保羅砰的一聲隨手關上了門)

After 用作副詞時意為「之後,以後」,也是指時間的先後順序。在此用法中,after 通常與其他字構成副詞片語。例如:
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Q:下面兩句有何區別: (1) Please let me know when you arrive. (2) Please let me know when you will arrive.

A:這兩句雖只有一個 will 之差,但詞性與語意卻有天壤之別。第 (1) 句的 when you arrive 是副詞子句 (時間子句),用現在簡單式表示未來式,因為時間子句中不能有表示未來的 will 或 be going to 等字眼 (注意:這一文法規則幾乎是 TOEFL, TOEIC 及其他英檢必考的問題)。而第 (2) 句的 when you will arrive 為名詞子句,當 know 的受詞。

再者,句 (1) 的意思是說「請你在抵達時告訴我」,至於告訴什麼事情則不明確,可能是到達的時間,也可能是此行的目的或其他事情。然而,句 (2) 則明確表示了是要告訴抵達的時間,所以這句的意思是「請你告訴我抵達的時間」,亦即 Please let me know your arrival time.。句 (2) 指的是未來的時間,如果我們要請對方告訴過去抵達的時間,那麼名詞子句的時態要改成過去式,如 Please let me know when you arrived yesterday.。

Q:有人說 Being children, we are taught to be honest. (身為小孩,我們被教導要誠實) 這句不通,但我認為句子沒錯,意思也可以,不是嗎?

A:筆者認為這當中的問題應是出在 being 這個字上。這位讀者可能把上句中的 being 看成等同於下句中的 being:Being a teacher is not an easy thing nowadays. (現在當老師並不是容易的事) — 這句中的 Being a teacher 是動名詞片語當主詞用,而 Being children 卻是從副詞子句減化而來的分詞片語,兩者自是不能等量齊觀,因為意思有所出入。

當 being 被用來引導減化的副詞子句時,它相當於「because + 主詞 + BE」;換言之,它是表示原因的副詞子句減化的結果。例如:

  • Being a mechanic himself (= Because he was a mechanic himself), he recognized the problem immediately. (因為他本身是技工,所以馬上找出了問題)
  • His wife, being a patient woman (= because she is a patient woman), puts up with his temper. (因為他太太是個有耐性的女性,所以能夠忍受他的脾氣)

是故,問題中的句子的原句為:Because we are children, we are taught to be honest.。當然,在文法上,這種 being 結構似乎是可以接受的,但它並未表達出我們真正想要表達的意思。總之,being 在引導減化的副詞子句時,僅能表示原因 (reason or cause)。

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)