Man, mankind, people (nn.)

傳統上,我們都是使用 man 來指「人類 (男性和女性)」,俾與其他動物有所區別。但許多人認為這是性別歧視,所以最好改用其他同義的字詞,如 human beings 或 humankind。Mankind 也可以指「人類 (男性和女性)」。雖然一般認為這個字的性別歧視成分比 man 來得低,但最好還是改用其他同義的字詞。People 亦可指「人類;人們」,這個字沒有性別歧視成分。

在這些字詞當中,man、mankind 和 humankind 為不可數名詞,後接單數動詞,而 human beings 和 people 為複數名詞,後接複數動詞。例如:

  • Human beings are rapidly destroying the earth. (人類正在快速毀滅地球)
  • Humankind is rapidly destroying the earth.
  • People are rapidly destroying the earth.

閱讀全文

A group of + 複數名詞可接單數或複數動詞

  • There was a group of girls playing Pokeman GO in the park. (有一群女孩在公園玩《精靈寶可夢GO》) (正)
  • A group of students were waiting for their teacher to unlock the classroom door. (一群學生在等候老師打開教室的門鎖) (正)

解說:除 group 外,由 crowd, gang, team 等集合名詞所構成的「集合名詞 + of + 複數名詞」句型同樣可接單數或複數動詞。例如:

  • There was a crowd of people staging a sit-in in front of the presidential palace. (總統府前有一群人在進行靜坐抗議)
  • A gang of workmen were repairing the road. (一群工人在修路)

Neither of ≠ Both (of) + not

Neither 可當連接詞、副詞、限定詞和代名詞用,這裡要談的是 neither 當限定詞和代名詞的用法,表示兩者中沒有任何一個,即「兩者都不」。例如:

  • Neither answer is correct. (兩個答案都不對) - neither 在此當限定詞用,後接單數可數名詞。
  • Neither of the answers is/are correct. (兩個答案都不對) - neither 在此當代名詞用。用作代名詞的 neither 後接複數名詞時,在正式書面文件中,動詞通常用單數形式,但在口語或非正式文件中,動詞通常用複數形式。Either 的代名詞用法亦同。

閱讀全文

主詞中含有 or 或 nor 的單複數問題

當主詞是由 or 或 nor 所連接的兩個元素所構成,若這兩個元素都是單數,則主動詞為單數。若其中有個元素為複數,則主動詞變成複數。例如:

  • Taylor or his wife is going to pick up his parents at the airport. (泰勒或者他太太將到機場接他的父母親)
  • The twin brothers or their sister are going to pick up their parents at the airport. (這對雙胞胎兄弟或是他們的姊姊將到機場接他們的父母親)

閱讀全文

Ill, sick (adjs.)

這兩個形容詞都意為「生病的;有病的」,有時可以互換,如 His grandmother has been ill/sick for several weeks. (他祖母已經病了好幾個禮拜)。但在某些方面,它們的意思和用法卻又不同,不能混為一談,否則不鬧笑話也難。譬如說,打電話請病假是 to call in sick,不是 to call in ill,如 Sarah called in sick for two days. (莎拉打電話請了兩天病假)。

Ill 意為「生病的;有病的」,指生病的、有病的、身體不適的或身體不健康的;就此意思而言,ill 不可用於名詞之前,如 His grandpa was suddenly taken ill. (他爺爺突然病倒了);My boss is critically ill in hospital. (我老闆在醫院裡病得很重);Ellen was too ill to walk. (艾蘭病得連走路都不行)。

Sick 意為「生病的;有病的;反胃的;噁心的;想吐的」。在英式英語,sick (如 to be/feel sick) 專指「反胃的;噁心的;想吐的」意思,但在美式英語則指「生病的;有病的」意思;所以,John was sick yesterday. 不一定等於 John was ill yesterday. (約翰昨天病了) 的意思。但 sick 若放在名詞之前就不會引起誤解,一定表示「生病的;有病的」,如 a sick baby (一個生病的嬰兒)。例如:Ed stayed at home caring for his sick wife. (艾德待在家裡照顧她生病的太太);The smell made us sick. (這氣味使我們想吐);Brenda suddenly fell very sick and died a few days later. (布蘭達突然罹患重病,幾天後就過世了)。

必須注意的是,ill 若接名詞,就沒有「生病的」意思了,而是意為「壞的;有害的」,如 It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. (凡事有利有弊)。此外,在指「病人」的集合名詞時,是用 the sick 來表示 (後接複數動詞),而不是 the ill,如 The sick are people who are sick. (病人)。

Q:在 He's on the finance committee which controls city council spending. 和 The human resources committee who are all scholars are going to meet on Thursday. 這兩句中,同樣是 committee,它們所用的關係代名詞為何一個是指事物的 which,而一個是指人的 who 呢?

A:committee, team, family, jury, government, audience, army, crew, company, firm (包括公司、機構和組織的名稱,如 UN, BBC, CNN, Sony 等等) 等字在英文中叫做「集合名詞」(collective nouns)。這些集合名詞後面可接單數或複數動詞。如果把它們視為一個整體,那麼它們就使用單數動詞及相對應的代名詞,且其關係代名詞須用 which (或 that);如果把它們視為個體的集合,那麼它們就使用複數動詞及相對應的代名詞,且其關係代名詞須用 who。

從上述可知,He’s on the finance committee which controls city council spending. (他是控制市議會支出的財政委會的委員) 中的 committee 被視為一個整體,即委員會,而 The human resources committee who are all scholars are going to meet on Thursday. (人力資源委員會的委員將在星期四開會。他們都是學者) 中的 committee 被視為個別成員,即委員會的所有委員。

在上下文中,有可能會出現上一句使用單數動詞,而下一句使用複數動詞的情況,如 The government is going to cut back on public spending. They have decided this is necessary in the current economic climate. (政府將削減公共支出。他們已決定,在目前的經濟氣候中,這是必要的措施)。請再看下面的例句:

  • My family, who have lived on this island all their lives, are determined to remain here. (我的家人一生都住在這個島上,他們決定繼續留在這裡)
  • My firm, which was established in 1932, has been manufacturing vacuum cleaners since the 1950s. They look after me very well and have an excellent pension scheme. (我的公司創立於 1932 年,自 1950 年代以來一直在製造吸塵器。他們很照顧我且有良好的退休金計畫)
  • The jury retires to consider its verdict. (陪審團退下去考慮該如何判決)
    The jury retire to consider their verdict.

一般而言,對於這類集合名詞,英式英語傾向於使用複數動詞,而美式英語則傾向於使用單數動詞。不過,當這些集合名詞前面有 a, each, every, this 或 that 等單數的限定詞時,它們一定要用單數動詞及相對應的代名詞。例如:

  • A government which fails to honor its promises should not be re-elected. (未能兌現諾言的政府不應再當選連任)
  • That team is capable of winning all the major trophies this year. (該隊有能力贏得今年所有重大比賽的獎盃)

然而,並非所有集合名詞 (英文約有 200 個常用的集合名詞) 都可以接單數或複數動詞。有些集合名詞只能接複數動詞,如 people, police, military, clergy, cattle 以及用做集合名詞的形容詞,如 the rich, the poor, the homeless 等;有些則只能接單數動詞 (尤其是無生命的物品 — 這些名詞被視為不可數),如 baggage, luggage, cutlery, furniture, underwear, china, earthenware, porcelain 等。