Awhile, a while

許多人經常被副詞 awhile 和名詞片語 a while 搞混。這並不令人驚訝,因為它們發音相同,而且 a while 也可當副詞用。在許多情況中,這兩種型態都是可以接受的。你可以說 It took a while to get down the hill. (下山需要一點時間),句中 a while 與其他名詞片語如 an hour 或 a long time 的作用一樣。你也可以說 It took awhile to get down the hill.,句中 awhile 與副詞片語 quite long 或比較級副詞 longer 的作用一樣。

然而,在介系詞後面必須使用 a while,因為介詞須接名詞當受詞。因此,我們必須寫成 I’ll stay for a while. (我會停留一會兒),而不能寫成 I’ll stay for awhile.。若無介詞,則任一種型態都是合乎語法的:I’ll stay a while. 或 I’ll stay awhile. 同樣地,wait (for) 後面接人或事物時,for 通常不省略,如 I’m waiting for him/the bus. (我在等他/公車),但接時間時,for 可以省略,所以 Let’s wait awhile. 和 Let’s wait (for) a while. (咱們等一會兒吧) 都是正確的寫法。

Stock (n.), to put stock in, to take stock in, to take stock of

Stock 當名詞用時主要意為「現貨,存貨;公債,股票」。就「現貨,存貨」的意思而言,in stock 和 out of stock 是我們常見的兩個片語,前者意為「有現貨或存貨的」,如 Have you have any of the blue shirts in stock? (你們有藍襯衫的存貨嗎?);後者意為「沒有現貨或存貨的」,如 So many people have bought bikes that the store is now out of stock. (那麼多人買腳踏車,商店現在已經沒貨了)。此外,take stock 這個片語中的 stock 也是這意思,而 take stock 意為「盤點 (存貨)」,如 The food store took stock every week. (這家食品店每週盤點存貨)。

至於「公債,股票」的意思,許多數人對 stock 是再熟悉也不過了。股票的英文也常用 share 來表示,我們甚至可以將 stock 和 share 寫在一起,但它們有慣用的前後順序,不可顛倒 – 正確的寫法是 stocks and shares,不可寫成 shares and stocks – 如 He invested his savings in stocks and shares. (他將存款投資在股票上)。

To put stock in 和 to take stock in 都是美國的慣用語,兩者同義,意為「相信」:I put (or take) no stock in what you say. (我不相信他所說的話);I don’t put (or take) much stock in fortunetellers. (我不大相信算命的人)。顯然地,這兩個片語大多用在否定式。

To take stock of 意為「估計,估量 (情勢);對…做出判斷」:You have to take stock of your position. (你必須衡量一下你的處境);Let’s sit back and take stock of the situation. (讓我們坐下來估量一下情勢)。若不接受詞,則這片語就變成 to take stock,與意為「盤點」的 to take stock 寫法相同。換言之,to take stock 有兩個意思,視上下文而定。

Half

Half 當主詞時通常接單數動詞,除非介系詞 of 後面之受詞的數使其應接複數動詞才符合「概念上的一致」(notional agreement):Half the membership seems satisfied, but I’m afraid half [of] the members are not. (半數會員感到滿意,但我擔心有半數會員不滿意) – 句中 membership 意為「全體會員」,為集合名詞,而 member 意為「會員」,為可數名詞。另外,half of 跟 all of 和 both of 一樣,其中的 of 皆可省略。

再者,在表示某東西的一半時,下面的說法或寫法都是標準英語。以半個蘋果為例:half an apple, a half apple, half of an apple。不過,美式英語認為說 a half apple 比說 half an apple 要來得好。

此外,在表示某東西的一個半時,half 在句中的位置會影響主詞和動詞的單複數。以一個半月 (45天) 為例,這有兩種寫法:one and a half months 和 a month and a half。前者要以複數來處理,如 One and a half months have passed since I saw him. (自我上次見到他以來已過了一個半月);a month and a half 須以單數來處理,如 A month and a half has passed since I saw him.

最後是,half 與 cut, slice, saw, divide 和 break 等動詞連用時,雖然邏輯上是某東西被切成、鋸成…兩半,應使用 two halves,但標準的慣用語是 cut/slice…in half。關於這一點,筆者已在 “cut…in half, in thirds, in quarters, etc.” 一文中做了說明。

「6123」結構

這是一種句型的俗稱;由於這種句型實在太重要、太常用了,大家一定要把它學會,而且要運用自如。這種句型的基本結構為「find, make 等6個常用動詞 + it (形式受詞) + 形容詞/名詞 (受詞補語) + that 子句/不定詞片語/動名詞片語 (真正受詞)」。在此結構中,”6″ 是指主句中常用的6個動詞 (think, believe, make, find, consider, feel),”1″ 是指形式受詞 it,”2″ 是受詞補語的兩種形式 (形容詞或名詞),而 “3” 則是指真正受詞的3種形式 (不定式片語,動名詞片語或 that 所引導的受詞子句 — 這個that 不能省略)。請看下面的例句:

  1. We think it our duty to clean our classroom every day. (我們認為每天打掃教室是我們的責任) — 句中 it = to clean our…
  2. He felt it very important learning English well. (他覺得把英文學好很重要) — 句中 it = learning English…
  3. They found it difficult that they would finish their work in two days. (他們覺得要在兩天內完成他們的工作是有困難的) — 句中 it = that they would…。

可以接 that 子句當受詞的動詞

下面所列的動詞都可以接 that 子句當受詞 (當然,下列只是這類動詞中的一小部份而已,但它們都是我們常用的動詞):

accept, admit, announce, answer, ask, assume. authorize, believe, claim, command, complain, consent, consider, contest, declare, decide, decree, demand, demonstrate, determine, deny, desire, dictate, direct, discover, discuss, doubt, examine, expect, feel, find (out), forget, grant, guarantee, hope, ignore, imply, indicate, insist, know, move, notice, observe, order, overlook, permit, propose, prove, recommend, regret, remark, report, request, require, say, see, show, specify, suggest, suppose, think, understand, urge, wonder 等等。例如:

We have to admit that he’s a highly competent man. (我們必須承認他是個非常能幹的人)
They decided that John must stay there. (他們決定約翰必須留在那裡)
I regret that you see it like that. (我很遺憾你這樣看待這件事)

然而,有些動詞卻不可以接 that 子句當受詞,如 contribute, describe, make, prevent, speak, summarize 等等。所以下句是錯誤的:

He spoke to his girlfriend that he had missed her very much. (他對他的女友說,他非常想念她)

Consider 還是 consider as 呢?

Consider 的主要意思有三:

第一義是「認為,把…視為」(句型為:consider + 受詞 + 名詞/形容詞)。例如:Do you consider her suitable for the job? (你認為她適合做這份工作嗎?)。

第二義是「考慮,細想」。例如:We will not fail to consider your feelings on the matter. (我們不會不考慮你對這件事情的感受)。

第三義是「考慮到;考慮過」。例如:I have considered all aspects of the problem. (我已考慮過這問題的所有層面)。

由於第一義與 regard as 和 view as 同義,所以當 consider意為「認為,把…視為」時,就不可在其後加上 as (但若意為「考慮」,則可加上 as),但可加上 “to be” (可省略):

I consider it (to be) a great honor to be invited to join the club. (我認為被邀請加入此俱樂部是很大的榮幸) (正)
I consider it as a great honor to be invited to join the club. (誤)

最後要提的是,consider 後面若接動詞,須用動名詞而非不定詞:

I’m considering changing my job. (我正考慮換工作) (正)
I’m considering to change my job. (誤)

Approach, discuss 和 lack 這三個動詞有什麼關係呢?

老實說,這三個動詞一點關係也沒有,但它們有一共通點,那就是它們都是及物動詞,後面直接接受詞,不可以接介系詞再接受詞。英文中有許多這樣的動詞,這裡只是以這三個我們常見但經常用錯的動詞作代表。總之,當 approach, discuss 和 lack 做及物動詞用時,那麼 approach to + 受詞,discuss about + 受詞,lack of + 受詞的寫法都是錯的。例如:

Silently we approached the enemy’s camp. (正)
Silently we approached to the enemy’s camp. (誤)
(我們悄悄地逼近敵人的營地)
He’s approaching 70. (正)
He’s approaching to 70. (誤)
(他快70歲了)

She discussed her study plan with her mother. (正)
She discussed about her study plan with her mother. (誤)
(她和母親討論她的讀書計畫)
Mr. Wang refused to discuss the matter. (正)
Mr. Wang refused to discuss about the matter. (誤)
(王先生拒絕討論這件事)

He’s good at his job but he seems to lack confidence. (正)
He’s good at his job but he seems to lack of confidence. (誤)
(他善於工作,但似乎缺乏信心)
I don’t seem to lack anything. (正)
I don’t seem to lack of anything. (誤)
(我好像什麼都不缺)

然而,這三個動詞的名詞 approach, discussion 和 lack 則都必須先接介系詞再接受詞。例如:

I like her approach to the problem. (我喜歡她解決這問題的方法)

We had a discussion about our future plans last night. (我們昨晚討論了我們未來的計畫)

He cannot buy this watch because of his lack of money. (他因缺錢買不起這個手錶)