Q: while 和 however 都意為「然而,不過」,但在 My room is small. However, it's very comfortable. 中,為何 however 不能用 while 來替換呢?

A:這是因為 while 是連接詞,而 however 是副詞。若將 small 後面的句點改為逗點,那麼 however 就要換成 while (或 whereas) 且不能再使用 however,此時句子就變成 My room is small, while it’s very comfortable. (我的房間不大,不過它很舒適)。若將 small 後面的句點改為分號 (;),那麼 however 就不能用 while (或 whereas) 來替換,且 however 須小寫,此時句子就變成 My room is small; however, it’s very comfortable.。

如果將副詞 however 誤以為是連接詞,而將上面的句子寫成 My room is small, however it’s very comfortable.,那麼這就成了英文中所謂的「連寫句」(run-on sentences),即兩個子句之間未用連接詞或錯用標點符號的句子。連寫句是許多人常犯的錯誤,避免錯誤的方法就是熟記下列規則:當一個句子含有兩個 (或以上的) 子句時,其中一個子句就必須使用連接詞。若這兩個子句都是獨立子句 (independent clauses),那麼要使用 and, or, but, so 等對等連接詞,或者不用連接詞而用正確的標點符號,即分號。若這兩個子句一為獨立子句、一為附屬子句 (dependent or subordinate clauses),那麼附屬子句的前面須使用 though, because, while, when, if 等附屬連接詞。請看下面的例句和說明:

  • Rachel played the piano and her husband sang and danced. (瑞秋彈著鋼琴,她先生載歌載舞) (正)
    - 兩個獨立子句用對等連接詞 and 連接起來。
  • Rachel played the piano; her husband sang and danced. (正)
    - 兩個獨立子句用分號連接。在此,分號的功能與 and 等量齊觀,而分號後面第一個字母須小寫。不過,分號應盡量少用,而且只有當兩個獨立子句在長度和意思上關係非常密切且具有良好的對等關係時才使用。
  • Rachel played the piano, her husband sang and danced. (誤)
    - 這是兩個子句之間未用連接詞或錯用標點符號的連寫句。
  • Cindy likes coffee while Mary likes tea. (辛蒂喜歡喝咖啡,而瑪麗喜歡喝茶) (正)
    - 這兩個子句一為獨立子句、一為附屬子句,附屬子句前使用附屬連接詞 while。
  • Cindy likes coffee, Mary likes tea. (誤)
    - 這是兩個子句之間未用連接詞的連寫句。
  • While/Whilst Dean likes the color of the hat, he does not like its shape. (雖然狄恩喜歡這頂帽子的顏色,但他不喜歡它的形狀) (正)
    - 這兩個子句一為獨立子句、一為附屬子句,附屬子句前使用附屬連接詞 while/whilst。
  • Dean likes the color of the hat; however, he does not like its shape. (正)
    - 雖然 however 是副詞,但分號等同於連接詞。
  • Dean likes the color of the hat, however he does not like its shape. (誤)
    - 這是連寫句,因為 however 是副詞,不是連接詞。
  • Some people like fatty meat, whereas others hate it. (有些人喜歡肥肉,而有些人卻不喜歡) (正)
    - 這兩個子句一為獨立子句、一為附屬子句,附屬子句前使用附屬連接詞 whereas。
  • Some people like fatty meat; nevertheless, others hate it. (正)
    - 這兩個子句用分號連接。分號等同於連接詞。
  • Some people like fatty meat, nevertheless others hate it. (誤)
    - 這是連寫句,因為 nevertheless 是副詞,不是連接詞。

While 意為「然而,不過 (位在句中時);雖然,儘管 (位在句首時)」的連接詞用法,係在強調兩個子句中所表示的兩個事實或兩種情況的對比或差異。與其相當的連接詞還有 whilst 和 whereas,但 whilst 主要用在英式英語中,且其引導的附屬子句都位在主要子句之前,而 whereas 引導的附屬子句都位在主要子句之後。

至於 however 意為「然而,不過」的副詞用法,係在表示轉折或對比,與其相當的副詞或片語還有 nevertheless 和 on the other hand 等。不過,however 不僅能位於句首 (其後通常有逗點),而且還能位於句中 (前後須使用逗點),甚至句末 (其前也要有逗點)。以問題中的句子為例:

  • My room is small. However, it’s very comfortable.
  • My room is small; however, it’s very comfortable.
  • My room is small. It is, however, very comfortable.
  • My room is small. It’s very comfortable, however.