Q:The criminal possessed three guns. 為何不能改成被動態的 Three guns were possessed by the criminal. 呢?

A:大家都知道,英文的被動語態是由 BE + 及物動詞的過去分詞所構成,換言之,不及物動詞是沒有被動態的。因此,有人便以為所有及物動詞都可用於被動態。其實不然,有些及物動詞並沒有相應的被動態。問題中的 possess 就是這樣一個沒有相應被動態的及物動詞。茲將一些比較常見的沒有被動態的及物動詞臚列如下,供大家參考。

1. 意為「擁有」、「容納」、「缺少」、「由… 組成,構成」的及物動詞,如 possess, hold, lack, comprise 等,不能用於被動態。例如:

  • Bill Gates possesses great wealth. (比爾蓋茲擁有大量財富)
    Great wealth is possessed by Bill Gates. (誤 — 因為 possess 不能用於被動態。以下錯誤的句子亦適用這項說明)
  • The cinema holds about 500. (這家電影院能容納約 500 人)
    About 500 are held by the cinema. (誤)
  • Mr. Wang usually lacks confidence. (王先生經常缺乏信心)
    Confidence is usually lacked by Mr. Wang. (誤)
  • The country comprises 26 provinces. (這國家有 26 個省/這國家由 26 個省所組成)
    Twenty-six provinces are comprised by the country. (誤)

2. 意為「適合」的及物動詞,如 become, fit, suit 等,不能用於被動態。例如:

  • This sort of behavior hardly becomes a person in your position. (這種行為與一個有你這樣地位的人簡直不相稱)
    A person in your position is hardly become by this sort of behavior. (誤)
  • That color really suits her. (那種顏色跟她真的很相配)
    She is really suited by that color. (誤)
  • This dress fits me very well. (這件衣服非常合我的身)
    I am fitted very well by this dress. (誤)

3. 意為「意味,意思是;相似,相像」的及物動詞,如 mean, resemble 等,不能用於被動態。例如:

  • The red light means “Stop”. (紅燈意味「停」)
    “Stop” is meant by the red light. (誤)
  • She resembles her sister in appearance but not in character. (她的外表像她姊姊,但個性不像)
    Her sister is resembled by her in appearance but not in character. (誤)

4. 意為「明白,理解,領會」的及物動詞,如 catch, get, take 等,不能用於被動態。例如:

  • I didn’t quite catch your last point. (我不太明白你說的最後一點)
    Your last point wasn’t quite caught by me. (誤)
  • She took me wrong. (她誤解了我的意思)
    I was taken wrong by her. (錯誤)

5. 意為「有、吃、接受、度過、經歷」等的及物動詞 have,不能用於被動態。例如:

  • I have three sons and two daughters. (我有三兒二女)
    Three sons and two daughters are had by me. (誤)
  • I have already had dinner. (我已吃過晚餐)
    Dinner has already been had by me. (誤)
  • We will have a good Spring Festival. (我們將會過一個愉快的春節)
    A good Spring Festival will be had by us. (誤)

6. 意為「維持,夠用」的及物動詞 last,不能用於被動態。例如:

  • This food will only last them three days. (這些食物只夠他們吃三天)
    They will only be lasted three days by this food. (誤)
  • This dress has lasted me three years. (這件衣服我已穿了三年)
    I have been lasted three years by this dress. (誤)

7. 意為「價值,花費」的及物動詞 cost,不能用於被動態。例如:

  • The house cost me a lot of money. (這棟房子花了我很多錢)
    I was cost a lot of money by the house. (誤)

8. 意為「(不幸事件) 發生於,降臨在」的及物動詞 befall,不能用於被動態。例如:

  • Some misfortune must have befallen them. (某種災禍必定已降臨在他們頭上)
    They must have been befallen by some misfortune. (誤)

Replace, substitute (vv.)

Replace 意為「取代,代替;更換,替換」,而 substitute 意為「取代;代替」,但這兩者並非同義詞,因為它們的用法並不相同。replace 僅當及物動詞用,而 substitute 則可當及物和不及物動詞,如 He’ll have to replace those tires; they’re badly worn. (他必須更換那些輪胎;它們磨損得太厲害了);George has replaced John as captain of the team. (喬治接替約翰當了隊長);Susan is ill and Laura is to substitute her. (蘇珊病了,羅拉將代替她);George has substituted as captain of the team. (喬治代任隊長)。

這兩個動詞最大的差異在於其後所接的介系詞,replace 後面可接 with 或 by (尤其是在被動態中),而 substitute 都是接 for,如 We’ve replaced old calculators with/by computers. (我們已用電腦取代了舊式的計算機);Her photograph was replaced by his painting. (她的照片被他的畫取代了);Home-made parts are being substituted for imported ones. (國產零件取代進口零件)。

必須注意的是,許多人搞不清楚這兩個字在上下文中的替代關係:to replace A with/by B 意為「用 B 來替換 A」,亦即 A 被 B 所取代,而 to substitute A for B (or A be substituted for B) 意為「用 A 來替換 B」,亦即 B 被 A 所取代。例如:

I replaced her photograph with/by his painting. (我用他的畫代替她的照片)。
= I substituted his painting for her photograph.
= Her photograph was replaced by his painting.
= His painting replaced her photograph.
= His painting was substituted for her photograph.

儘管目前 substitute 被用來代替 replace 的情況有越來越多的趨勢,但謹慎的人士仍堅守並維持它們之間的不同。

Q:我想要知道 be to 的用法,如 I'm to sleep on the sofa tonight. (今晚我將睡沙發)。

A:be to 是一種未來式。這種句型相當、相當常用,但它們所表示的意義不盡相同,因此有必要加以徹底瞭解,俾掌握其應用的精髓。「be to + 不定詞」在實際的應用上有下列幾項主要意思,而每項意思都很常見:

1. 表示正式的計畫或安排。

  • The Prime Minister is to make a state visit to Haiti next week. (總理下週將到海地進行國是訪問)
  • We are to receive a pay raise in line with inflation in September. (我們將在9月加薪以因應通貨膨脹)

2. 表示不久的將來幾乎肯定會發生的事件 — 通常用在報紙、電視和電台的新聞報導中。

  • A man is to appear in court later this morning charged with the murder of his father, mother, and wife. (一名被控殺害自己父母親和老婆的男子今天上午稍後將出庭應訊)
  • Work is to begin this week on the new bridge across the Nile. (尼羅河的新跨河大橋將在本週動工興建)

3. 表示別人給我們的正式指示,父母親或其他長輩給小孩的指示,或各種不同的指示、通知和公告。

在這項用法中,經常會出現否定的型態,即 be not to,這種否定型態都是表示「不許,不准,不可」(be not allowed to 或 be not permitted to) 的意思,相當於 mustn’t,但它所表示的「不許,不准,不可」是別人對我們所施加的「不許,不准,不可」。至於在肯定句中,be to 具有 have to (必須) 的意思。

  • You are not to leave the school until your parents arrive to collect you. (在你父母親來接你之前,你不可離開學校)
  • We’re not to smoke in the office. (我們不准在辦公室抽菸)
  • I’m to clean up my room before I’m allowed to go out. (我必須清掃房間後才可外出)
  • We are to look after our neighbors’ dog while they are away. (我們必須在鄰居不在時照顧他們的狗兒)

在給予指示時,我們常常會見到「be to + 被動態不定詞 (be + P.P.)」的用法;藥瓶上的用藥指示以及其他正式公告都是使用這樣的句型:

  • (The medicine is) To be taken three times a day after meals. (每天三餐飯後服用)
  • No food of any kind is to be taken into the examination room. (不准攜帶任何食物進入考場)

4. be to 亦經常用在條件句中來談論某種先決條件 (precondition)。

  • If we are to catch that train, we shall have to leave now. (如果我們要趕上那班火車,我們必須馬上動身)
  • If we are to solve the world’s pollution problems, we must address environmental issues now. (如果我們要解決世界污染問題,我們現在必須解決環保問題)

5. be to 後面亦可使用完成式不定詞 (have + P.P.) 來表示過去計畫好或安排好的事情沒有實現或發生 — 所以這裡的 BE 動詞只能用 was/were。這相當於在口語上用得比較多的 was/were supposed to。

  • I was to have gone on holiday with Miss Lin, but she couldn’t get time off work. (我原本要和林小姐去度假,但她無法請假)
    = I was supposed to go on holiday with Miss Lin, but she couldn’t get time off work.

Born, borne (past participle, adj.)

Bear 是個相當常用的動詞,主要意為「忍受,忍耐,容忍 (通常用於否定或疑問句);帶有,具有,印有,寫有,刻有;運送,攜帶;(對某人) 懷有 (某種感受,如懷恨);生 (孩子)」。bear 的過去式為 bore,過去分詞為 borne,但作「生,生育」(to give birth) 之意時,它的過去分詞則有兩種型態:born 和 borne。

當 bear 意為「生,生育」時,born 都用在沒有 by 的被動態且當分詞形容詞用,如 He was born in Japan. (他在日本出生);The twins were born on February 15, 1969. (這對雙胞胎生於 1969 年 2 月 15 日);The baby was born to a very young woman. (這嬰兒是一位年紀非常輕的女子所生);Amy was born into a large/wealthy family. (艾美出生於一個大家庭/富裕家庭) — 請注意上面四個例句中介系詞 (in, on, to 和 into) 的用法。當形容詞用的 born 除了「出生的,誕生的」意思外,還意為「天生的,生來就有的,有天才的,命中注定的」,如 She was considered a born movie star. (她被視為天生的電影明星);He is a born leader/writer. (他是天生領袖/天才作家);She was born to succeed. (她命中注定會成功的)。注意:當 born 意為「出生的」時,be born to 後接名詞或名詞片語 (to 為介系詞),而當 born 意為「命中注定的」時,be born to 後接原形動詞 (to 為不定詞)。

當 bear 意為「生,生育」時,borne 僅當過去分詞用,主詞都是 mother, woman 或 she,如 The woman has borne three sons. (這位女人已生了三個兒子),She had borne six children. (她生過六個小孩),而且只能用於主動態,換言之,上面的例句 The baby was born to a very young woman. 不可寫成 The baby was borne to a very young woman.。

如上所述,在 bear 的其他意思上,不管動詞是主動還是被動,它的過去分詞恆為 borne,如 He has borne a grudge for many years. (他已懷恨多年);They had borne enough pain. (他們已忍受了過多的痛苦);The prisoner’s story was borne out by his wife. (那囚犯的供述為他的妻子所證實);The following points should be borne in mind. (下列要點要記住)。to bear out 和 bear in mind 都是常用的片語,前者意為「證實,為…作證,支持 (某種說法)」,後者意為「記住;考慮」。事實上,borne 亦可當形容詞用,但僅用在 “be borne in on/upon somebody” 這片語以及與名詞連用所構成的形容詞中,前者意為「為某人所意識到;為某人所瞭解」,後者意為「由…所攜帶的;由…所傳播的」:Slowly it was borne in on the citizens that the enemy had surrounded them. (市民漸漸意識到敵人已經包圍了他們);Some plants have windborne seeds. (有些植物靠風傳播種子);Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease. (瘧疾是由蚊子傳播的疾病);airborne pollution (空氣傳播的污染);airborne supply (空中補給);airborne troops ( 空降部隊)。

拼字錯誤的情況經常發生,尤其是當 bear 意為「生,生育」而用法是被動態或形容詞時,born 往往被誤寫成 borne。

Comprise, compose, consist, constitute, include (vv.)

Comprise 意為「由…組成,由…構成;組成,構成」,compose 意為「組成,構成」,consist of 意為「由…組成,由…構成」,constitute 意為「組成,構成」,而 include 意為「 包含,包括」。從這些動詞的意思來看,若要表示一個整體是由數個個體或項目所組成時,我們可用 comprise 或 consist of;若要表示數個個體或項目組成一個整體時,我們可用 comprise, compose 或 constitute,但 compose 經常用於被動態,而以 be composed of 的型式出現,意思和用法跟 consist of 完全一樣。例如:The United Kingdom consists of/is composed of/comprises England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. (聯合王國是由英格蘭、威爾斯、蘇格蘭和北愛爾蘭所構成);England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland comprise/constitute the United Kingdom. (英格蘭、威爾斯、蘇格蘭和北愛爾蘭組成了聯合王國)。

在這幾個字當中,僅 comprise 兼具其他字的意思,但它也是最麻煩、最讓人困擾的字。英語評論人士強烈反對 comprise 被用作 constitute 的意思以及 comprise 以被動態形式 be comprised of 來表示 consist of 的意思,所以對於 Fifty states comprise the United States. (五十個州組成了美國) 和 The United States is comprised of fifty states. (美國是由五十個州所組成) 這樣的句子結構,他們期期以為不可,而堅持只有 The United States comprises fifty states. 才是唯一正確的用法。但他們反對的這兩種用法其實早已是不折不扣的標準英語,一些新版的字典甚至將 be comprised of 堂而皇之地列為片語,如 The course is comprised of ten core modules. (這門課是由 10 個核心單元組成)。然而,在公說公有理,婆說婆有理,各有堅持的情況下,在此建議:若使用 comprise 會讓你覺得心虛或沒把握,那麼不妨使用它的同義詞,也就是沒有爭議的 constitute, consist of 或 be composed of 來代替之。

另一個要注意的重點是:在使用 include 這個字時不能將其所包含的個體或項目全部列出。譬如說,一支棒球隊是由 9 名球員所組成,所以 It includes a pitcher, a catcher, and four infielders. (它包含一名投手、一名捕手和四名內野手) — 不可將 9 名球員全部列出。當然,我們也可以這樣寫 It is composed of these, plus three outfielders.;The team comprises these nine players;they compose the team.。最後,順便一提的是,除了 consist of, be composed of 及被一些人認為錯誤的 be comprised of 外,我們亦可使用 be made up of 來表達相同的意思,如 The house is made up of three bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and bathroom. (這房子是由三個臥室,一個客廳,一個廚房和一個浴室所構成)。

Possessed

Possessed 後面通常接介系詞 of, by 或 with。這個過去分詞形容詞與 of 連用時意為「擁有」(have):She was possessed of a large estate. (他過去擁有許多資產);That child is possessed of a sharp tongue. (那個小孩說話很刻薄)。possessed 和 of 之間可插入反身代名詞,但此時意為「弄到;找到」(get hold of):She possessed herself of her daughter’s diary. (她自己找到她女兒的日記)。possessed 與 by 或 with 連用時意為「瘋狂的;著魔的;鬼迷心竅的」:The prosecutor described him as a man possessed by (or with) an urge to kill. (檢察官形容他是個有瘋狂的殺人衝動的男子)。

必須注意的是,雖然 possessed 是 possess (擁有,持有) 的過去分詞,但在 He was possessed by an urge to kiss her. (他有一種難以自持的衝動想要吻她) 這樣的句子中,be possessed by 並非 possess 的被動結構,因為 possess 雖是及物動詞但卻不能用於被動態。例如,我們可以說 The criminal possessed three guns. (這罪犯擁有三把槍),但卻不能說 Three guns were possessed by the criminal.。英文中還有一些及物動詞跟 possess 一樣是沒有被動態的,如 lack (缺乏)、suit (適合)、last (維持)、cost (花費) 等。

Rob + 人或地 + of + 物;steal + 物 + from + 人或地

我們都知道 rob 和 steal 這兩個動詞的意思分別是「搶」和「偷」,但古早時代 rob 的意思是 steal,所以在古典小說或寓言故事中你可能會看到 ”The fox robbed the chickens.” (狐狸偷了雞) 這樣的句子。當然,根據標題的句型,現代標準英語應寫成 The fox robbed the henhouse. (狐狸搶劫雞舍 – 被搶之物是雞) 或 The fox robbed the farmer. 或 The fox stole [not robbed] the chickens (from the henhouse).。

然而,to rob the loot (搶奪戰利品) 這樣的用法有時仍會出現在寫作中,但許多人仍認為這是不標準的英語或方言。此外,我們也要注意,一些英語純正人士堅持,”to rob your house” 一定是搶匪當著你的面搜刮屋內值錢或重要的東西,而 “to rob you” 則是搶走你某樣或某些東西,不是搶走你的人。然而,現代英語用法經常允許鬆散的被動語態,如 Our house was robbed last night while we were away. (我們的房子昨晚在我們外出時遭搶 – 不是當著你的面) – 除了最保守的寫作外,這句都可用在所有英文寫作中。在這句中,robbed 不能用 stolen 來代替,因為房子被搶是指屋內值錢或重要的東西被拿走,但房子被偷是指整棟房子被搬走,這是不可能的。「rob + 人或地 + of + 被搶之物」這句型已清楚地告訴我們被搶的對象和被搶走的物品,所以 The man robbed my safe. 這句是表示保險箱內的錢或其他貴重物品被搶走,但保險箱還在,而 The man robbed me of my safe. 這句則是表示保險箱本身被搶了,不在了。

Rob 幾乎都是跟介系詞 of 連用,除了搶奪、搶劫的意思外,它還可用來比喻,意為「剝奪;使喪失」,如 Indigestion robbed me of my sleep. (消化不良使我無法入睡);但 rob 與 from 連用的情況也時有所聞,如 Bad press relations robbed her hard-earned popularity from her. (與新聞界惡劣的關係毀了她辛苦掙得的聲望),但這並非正規英語,應避免用於正式寫作中。

Take place, occur

這兩個動詞是同義字。儘管一些對語法、用字遣詞要求純正的人士 (purists) 想盡辦法要將 take place 侷限於事先規劃好的事件,而 occur 侷限於意外的事件, 如 The accident occurred last Thursday. (這起意外事故發生在上週四),The funeral took place today. (葬禮今天舉行),但它們在標準用法中是可以互換的,且經常互換。

另外,當 take place 意為「舉行」時,它與 hold 也是同義字,但前者用主動態,後者用被動態,如 When will the basketball game take place? = When will the basketball game be held? (籃球賽何時舉行?) – 這是主詞為事物的情況。若主詞是人,則 hold 要用主動態,如 They will hold a meeting to discuss this problem tomorrow. (他們明天將開會討論這個問題)。