Nowadays、these days 和 today 的用法

Nowadays (注意這個字的拼法,不是 nowdays)、these days 和 today 都可用作副詞來表示相較於過去的「現今,當今,如今」。例如:

  • Most people think kids nowadays are lazy. (大多數人都認為現在的小孩很懶)
  • People nowadays live far more comfortable lives. (現今人們過著比過去舒適很多的生活)

These days 比較不正式一些。例如:

  • Young people these days don’t respect their teachers any more. (時下的年輕人不再尊敬他們的老師)
  • These days you seldom see a young person give up their seat for an older person on the bus. (現今在公車上你很少會見到年輕人讓位給年長者)

Today 略微正式一點。例如:

  • People today are much more concerned about their health than they were in the past. (現在人們比以前更關心自己的健康)
  • Computers today are so advanced. (現在的電腦很先進)
    = The computers of today are so advanced.

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Luck 和 lucky 的用法

Luck 是名詞,意為「運氣;幸運,好運」,其後往往接介系詞 in 或 with 再接人事物來表示在某人事物上或對某人事物的運氣;lucky 是形容詞,意為「幸運的,運氣好的」。例如:

  • Bruce always wears a charm that he thinks brings him good luck. (布魯斯總是戴著一個他認為會給他帶來好運的護身符)
  • John seems to have had a lot of bad luck in finding a job. (約翰找工作時似乎碰到許多倒楣的事情)
  • My luck held/lasted and I found a gas station just in time. (好運與我常相左右 / 好運一直伴隨著我,我即時找到一處加油站)
  • A lucky person won the first prize in the competition. (一位幸運兒贏得了這項比賽的首獎)
  • You’re lucky to work for such a nice company. (你能在這麽好的一家公司工作真是幸運)
  • A: I got promoted yesterday. (A:我昨天升官了)
    B: Lucky you! (B:你真是幸運!)

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Progress 為不可數名詞

  • My daughter has made a lot of progress in English this semester. I’m very pleased. (這學期我女兒的英文進步很多。我很高興) (正)
  • My daughter has made a lot of progresses in English this semester. I’m very pleased. (誤)

解說:Progress 意為「進步,進展」,是個不可數名詞,其前不可使用不定冠詞 a 且沒有複數型。Progress 經常與動詞 make 連用來構成 to make progress (in/on + 名詞) 這個相當常用的片語,意為「(在…) 取得進展/有進步」。由於是不可數名詞,泛指時,progress 前面不可有定冠詞 the。例如:

  • Medical progress has been so rapid over the past few years. (過去幾年間,醫學發展突飛猛進) (正)
  • The medical progress has been so rapid over the past few years. (誤)

Bell vs. belle

Bell 可當名詞和動詞用,前者意為「鈴;鐘;鈴鐺;警鈴;門鈴;鐘狀物;鐘聲;鈴聲」,如 They rang the church bells. (他們敲響了教堂的鐘) - 鐘裡面的鐘錘叫做 clapper;There was no one at the counter, so Mary rang the bell. (櫃台沒有人,所以瑪麗就按了鈴);The ringing of the electric bell woke me from a dream. (一陣電鈴聲把我從夢中喚醒);The bell indicates the exam is over. (鈴聲表示考試結束) - 手機鈴聲叫做 ringtone(s),不要搞混了。

必須注意的是,「按鈴;搖鈴」是 to ring the bell(s),bell 的前面是定冠詞 the,鮮少使用不定冠詞,因為 to ring a bell 是個很常見的俚語,意為「聽起來耳熟;使人想起某事;引起某人對某事模糊的記憶」,如 “A: Do you remember Peter Chen? B: Well, the name rings a bell, but I can’t think who he is. / but I can’t remember whether I’ve ever met him.” (A:你還記得陳彼得嗎?哦,這名字聽起來好像很熟,但我想不起來他是誰 /但我想不起來是否和他見過面);Does what I just said ring a bell? (我剛剛所說的讓你想起某事了嗎?)。此外,to give someone a bell 是英國常用的口語,意為「打電話給某人」,亦可說成或寫成 to give someone a ring,如 I’ll give you a bell/ring tonight. (我今晚會打電話給你)。

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地名專有名詞是否加定冠詞的規則

  • Mount Tai is in the east of China. (泰山在中國的東部) (正)
  • The Mount Tai is in the east of China. (誤)
  • A Mount Tai is in the east of China. (誤)

解說:江、河、海洋的專有名詞前面要加定冠詞 the,但湖泊前面不加定冠詞;Mount 和 Mountain 的專有名詞不加定冠詞,但 Mountains 和 Sierra 等表示山脈的名稱前要加定冠詞。Island (島嶼) 的專有名詞不加定冠詞,但 Islands 和 Archipelago (群島) 以及 Peninsula (半島) 等專有名詞前則要加定冠詞。國家名稱大多不加定冠詞,但若國名中有 Republic 或 Kingdom 或最後一個字母為 s,則該國名前要加定冠詞,如 The United Kingdom (英國)、The United States (美國)、The Netherlands (荷蘭)、The Philippines (菲律賓)。

Q:在 The rapid spread of disease in this area was ascribed to poor sanitation. 這句中,disease 不是應該用複數 diseases 嗎?

A:Disease 這個字可當可數及不可數名詞用。在 The rapid spread of disease in this area was ascribed to poor sanitation. (本地區疾病之快速蔓延,被歸因於環境衛生不佳) 這句中,disease 是當不可數名詞用,泛指任何疾病,所有疾病,而非特指某種或某些疾病。

名詞的泛指或通稱 (generic reference) 在英文中是個非常重要的文法觀念。不可數名詞是以零冠詞 (即名詞前不加任何冠詞) 來表示泛指。例如:

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (情人眼裡出西施)
  • Beauty is only skin deep. (美貌只是外表;不可以貌取人)
  • Discretion is the better part of valor. (謹慎即大勇;大勇貴謹慎 - 意指不該冒不必要的危險)
  • I adore chocolate. (我非常喜歡巧克力)
  • We adore Baroque music. (我們非常喜歡巴洛克音樂)

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By and by vs. by the by

By and by 通常當副詞片語用,意為「不久 (after a while);很快 (soon)」,如 Sam will come back by and by. (山姆不久就會回來);By and by the sun began to appear. (不久太陽開始出現)。但 by and by 亦可當名詞用,意為「未來,將來 (future)」,與 future 一樣,其前都要有定冠詞 the,且表示單數的概念,而且為了避免混淆,這片語通常加連字號,如 Most science fiction stories are set in the by-and-by. (大多數科幻小說都是以未來為背景);Last night I told my wife about my plans for the by-and-by. (昨晚我告訴我太太有關未來的計畫)。

By the by 意為「對了;順便一提 (incidentally, by the way)」,如 I have to go now. By the by, if you want that book, I’ll bring it next time. (我要走了。對了,如果你要那本書,我下次帶給你);By the by I have something to tell you. (我順便有件事要告訴你)。

這兩個片語都被認為不適合用於正式寫作。Bye and bye, bye the bye, by the bye 等等都是錯誤的拼法。

雖然這兩個片語現今仍三不五時出現在新聞媒體中,但似乎已不若往昔那麼常用。對現代英語人士而言,它們似已過時,尤其是 by and by 具有聖經的特質,因為它被用於聖經英譯本及基督教讚美詩中。

Mountain, hill (nn.)

唐朝劉禹錫《陋室銘》中的名句「山不在高,有仙則名;水不在深,有龍則靈」,相信大家耳熟能詳。山的英文可用 mountain 或 hill 來表示,但它們主要的不同卻在於高度,而且越高的山越有名,與是否有仙人居住無關。雖然這兩個名詞之間的差異頗為容易分辨,但若干相關的重點仍值得注意與學習。

Mountain 意為「山;高山」,指的是高度較高、體積較大、坡度較陡的大山、高山或山脈 (mountain range),如 Everest is the highest mountain in the world. (聖母峰是世界最高的山);There are many mountain roads that are steep and winding. (有許多山路既陡峭又蜿蜒);The hunters went walking in the mountains. (獵人在山裡行走)。

Hill 意為「山丘;丘陵」,指的是高度較低、體積較小、坡度較緩的小山、小丘或小崗,如 The mansion of my boss stands on a hill. (我老闆的豪宅座落在山丘上);There are several ant hills over here. (這裡有好幾個蟻丘);Professor Lee and his students finally climbed to the top of the hill. (李教授和他的學生終於爬上小山的山頂)。

Mountain 也是山的泛指字,所以一般登山或爬山叫做 mountain climbing (= mountaineering),登山客叫做 mountain climber (= mountaineer),而不叫做 hill climbing 或 hill climber;至於登山腳踏車則是 mountain bike。雖然 mountain 和 hill 皆分別與 side 和 top 構成 mountainside 和 mountaintop 以及 hillside 和 hilltop,但這些字似乎不若同義的片語來得常用,如 There was no snow on the top of the mountain (or on the mountain top). (山頂已無積雪);The red brick house is situated on the side of the hill. (那紅磚屋座落在山坡上)。

此外,Mountain 亦可作比喻用法,意為「一大堆;大量」,如 Katy was buried under a mountain of paperwork. (凱蒂埋頭處理一大堆的文書工作)。除 mountain 和 hill 外,我們還經常會見到 mount 這個字,它可兼指 mountain 和 hill,但往往指前者。Mount 主要冠於山名之前,如 Mount Everest 或 Mt. Everest (聖母峰);再者,在單獨山峰之前不加定冠詞 the,如 Mount Blanc (白朗峰)、Mt. Ali (阿里山),但在山脈名稱前須加 the,如 the Himalayas (喜馬拉雅山)、the Alps (阿爾卑斯山)。

Q:We are the best of friends. 和 We are best friends. 的意思一樣嗎?

A:這兩句的意思並不完全相同。We are best friends. 意為「我們是最好的朋友」,表示我們之中任何一人與其他朋友的關係或感情都沒有我們來得麻吉。至於 We are the best of friends.,這是「the + 形容詞最高級 + of + (the) 複數名詞」的句型,在這種結構中,複數名詞前面定冠詞之有無會影響句子的意思。

在「the + 形容詞最高級 + of + 複數名詞」的句型中,若複數名詞前面沒有定冠詞,如問題中的句子,那麼它是表示泛指,沒有比較的範圍,其意思相當於 very/extremely + 形容詞原級,所以這句相當於 We are very/extremely good friends. (我們是非常/極為要好的朋友) - 這表示雖然我們極為要好、非常麻吉 (也有可能就是最好的朋友),但我們之中任何一人與其他朋友的關係或感情,有可能也同樣極為要好、非常麻吉。例如:

  • Mary is the wisest of women.
    = Mary is a very/an extremely wise woman. (瑪麗是個非常聰明的婦女)
  • My grandma lives in the quietest of places.
    = My grandma lives in a very/an extremely quiet place. (我祖母住在一處極為安靜的地方)
  • He has the most beautiful of gardens.
    = He has a very/an extremely beautiful garden. (他有一個非常漂亮的花園)

在上述句型中,若複數名詞前面有定冠詞,那麼它是表示特指,其意思相當於形容詞比較級 + than,後接 any other + 單數名詞或 all other + 複數名詞或 the others。這是指特定範圍內的比較,表示主詞比該範圍內其他人事物都來得如何如何,也就是說,主詞在該範圍內具有形容詞最高級的性質。例如:

  • Mary is the wisest of the women (in that group).
    = Mary is wiser than any other woman/all other women/the others (in that group). (瑪麗比 [該團體中] 其他任何/其他所有婦女都要聰明) - 瑪麗是該團體所有婦女中最聰明的。
  • My grandma lives in the quietest of the places (in Taipei).
    = My grandma lives in a place which is quieter than any other place/all other places/the others (in Taipei). (我祖母 [在台北] 所住的地方比 [台北] 其他任何/其他所有地方都來得安靜) - 我祖母所住的地方是台北最安靜的。
  • He has the most beautiful of the gardens (in this community).
    = His garden is more beautiful than any other garden/all other gardens/the others (in this community). (他的花園比 [本社區] 其他任何/其他所有花園都要漂亮) - 他的花園是本社區最漂亮的。

但這種句型並不常用,一般都用比較級來表達,如上述。不過,倘若「the + 形容詞最高級 + of + 複數名詞」結構中,複數名詞是以「the + 形容詞 = 集合名詞」的型態出現,而前面的形容詞最高級就是此型態中形容詞的最高級,那麼這種結構就相當常見,因為它具有強調作用。例如:

  • We must care about the poorest of the poor. (我們必須關懷那些最窮的人)
  • Bill Gates is the richest of the rich. (比爾‧蓋茲是有錢人當中最有錢的)
  • He is the strongest/weakest of the strong/weak. (他是強者/弱者當中最強/最弱的)

世界知名的《富比士》(Forbes) 雜誌每年都會公布全球富豪排行榜,它的英文標題就是 The Richest of the Rich。