Q:It is surprising Jerry should be so polite today. 這句是假設語氣嗎?

A:沒錯,這句是假設語氣。在英文中,表示主觀認為不該如此,而非敘述事實,要用假設語氣,其句型為 It’s + 形容詞 (+ that) + 主詞 + should + 原形動詞 (表示現在或未來) 或 should + have + 過去分詞 (表示過去);should 在句中意為「居然,竟然」。例如:

  • It is surprising (that) Jerry should be so polite today. (真想不到傑瑞今天竟然這麼有禮貌) (正)
    It is surprising (that) Jerry would be so polite today. (誤)
    It is surprising (that) Jerry was so polite today. (誤)
  • It is very strange that Tom should be so quiet today. (很奇怪,湯姆今天居然如此安靜)

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Prefer 的用法

Prefer 是個及物動詞,意為「更喜歡,較喜歡;寧願,寧可,更願意,更希望」。由於是狀態動詞,prefer 本身不用進行式,其後可接名詞 (片語)、不定詞或動名詞當受詞。Prefer 經常與介系詞 to 所引導的介系詞片語連用來比較兩個事物或兩個動作。例如:

  • Do you prefer summer or winter? (你比較喜歡夏天還是冬天?)
  • He prefers his daughter to live near him. (他更希望他女兒住在他附近)
  • Do you prefer to exercise indoors or outdoors? (你比較喜歡在室內還是戶外運動?)
  • She prefers living in Kaohsiung. (她比較喜歡住高雄)
  • I prefer white wine to red. (比起紅葡萄酒,我更喜歡白葡萄酒)
  • A lot of people prefer the quiet countryside to the noisy cities. (許多人喜歡寧靜的鄉村更勝於喧囂的城市)
  • Most people prefer watching television to reading books. (比起看書,大多數人更喜歡看電視)

必須注意的是,prefer… to… 是固定搭配,不可使用 than 來替代介系詞 to。例如:
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Demand, insist 等動詞後接假設語氣子句

  • My father demanded that I turn the TV off and go to bed at once. (我父親要求我馬上關掉電視上床睡覺) (正)
  • My father demanded that I would turn the TV off and go to bed at once. (誤)
  • My father demanded that I turned the TV off and went to bed at once. (誤)

解說:主句的動詞如果是表示建議、要求或命令 (如 demand, insist, order, suggest 等等 ),而且其後的名詞子句含有應該做但還未做的意思,那麼該子句要用假設語氣:主詞 + (should) 原形動詞 + …。

Q:在使用 lest…should 的句子中,should 是否可以省略?

A:可以。你只要查字典就可知道 lest…should 往往被寫成 lest… (should) — 表示 should 通常是可以省略的。其實 lest 是個非常正式的用字,且已過時 (old-fashioned),現在它只被用於非常正式的書面文件中,日常生活會話中是見不到它的蹤跡的。lest 是個連接詞,它所引導的子句是個條件句,所以這種子句中的 should 是假設語氣的 should,與一般表示「義務」(obligation) 的 should 是不一樣的,它係表示一種可能性 (possibility),而且事情發生的可能性不高。

就 “lest + S + (should) + V” 而言,我們也可使用 “for fear that + S + (should) + V” 或 “in case + S + should + V” 來表達相同的意思;這就是說,在 lest, for fear that 所引導的子句中,should 可以省略,而 in case 子句中的 should 通常不省略,但 in case 的子句可以不用假設語氣,而用陳述語氣。此外,我們還可使用 “for fear of + V-ing” 或 “in order not to + V” 來做意思相同的敘述。然而,不管是子句形式,還是片語形式,它們的意思都是「唯恐;以免」。例如:

  • Study hard lest you (should) fail in your examination. (用功讀書以免考試不及格)
  • I will not make any noise for fear that I (should/ might) disturb you. (我不會發出任何聲響以免打擾你)
  • He took his coat with him in case it should rain. (他帶著雨衣以防下雨)
  • Don’t smoke in the office lest you (should) be called down. (別在辦公室裡抽菸以免被責備)
    = Don’t smoke in the office for fear that you (should) be called down.
    = Don’t smoke in the office for fear of being called down.
    = Don’t smoke in the office in order not to be called down.

值得注意的是,在 lest 所引導的子句中,即使 should 被省略,其主詞不管是單數還是複數,動詞仍須用原形動詞,因為 should 後接原形動詞,只是它被省略罷了。例如:

  • He must work hard, lest he fails the examination. (誤)
  • He must work hard, lest he fail the examination. (正)

Q:在 You may well say so. 這句中,may well 的意思為何? 另外,may/might (just) as well 和 may/might as well…as 的意思又是為何?

A:may/might well 意為「很可能;儘可,有足夠理由」,如 She may/might well refuse to speak to you. (她很可能拒絕跟你說話);You may/might well say so. (= You have good/enough reason to say so.) (你有足夠的理由這麼說)。這種句型也可變成倒裝句,如 She may well refuse to speak to you. 可以變成 Well may she refuse to speak to you. — 請注意詞序。再舉一例:Well may you ask why! (你儘可以問原因啊)。

再者,你可能會見到 might well + have + P.P. 的句型,這僅意為「很可能」,它的用途主要有二:(1) 在與過去事實相反的假設語氣中用於結果子句,如 We lost the baseball match, but we might well have won if one of our players hadn’t been hurt. (我們輸了這場棒球賽,但如果我們有個球員不受傷的話,我們很可能會贏);(2) 對過去所發生事情的推測,如 Your mother might well have been looking for you. (你媽媽很可能一直在找你)。注意:在否定句中,NOT 是位在 “well” 之後 (意為「很可能不」),如 You may well not recognize him. (你很可能認不出他了)。

may/might (just) as well (= had better/best) 意為「最好 (還是);還是…的好」,如 You may/might as well not fool around all day long. (= You had better/best not fool around all day long.) (你最好別整天遊手好閒) — NOT 同樣位在 “well” 之後 (意為「最好不」);No one will eat the food; it may/might just as well be thrown away. (沒有人要吃這些食物,最好還是扔掉算了)。

may as well A as B 意為「與其 B 不如 A」。
might as well A as B 意為「做 B 等於做 A」。例如:

  • One may as well not know a thing at all as know it imperfectly. (與其一知半解不如完全不知)
  • We might as well negotiate with a tiger for its hide as try to make peace with the Chinese Communists. (與中共謀和無異於與虎謀皮)

Q:我們有時會看到 "So be it" 這個用語,請問它是什麼意思?

A:這是個表示假設語氣的固定用語,意為「那就這樣吧」(請看下面的例句)。 英文中有若干固定的假設語氣片語或句子,它們的主要特色就是動詞都是原形動詞 (不管人稱為何)。類似的假設語氣片語或句子還有 “bless you”, “long live”, “be that as it may”, “suffice it to say (that) + 子句” 等等。例如:

  • Bless you. (願上帝保佑您) — 這是 May God bless you. 的簡稱。
  • Long live our gracious Queen. (吾國仁慈寬厚的女王萬歲) — 這是英國國歌的第一行。
    Long live the bride and groom. (新娘新郎長命百歲) — 在婚宴上舉杯向新人敬酒的祝賀語。
  • I have always supported you financially, but be that as it may, I can no longer support your current lifestyle. If I have to pretend that you no longer exist, so be it. (我一直在金錢上支援你,但即使如此,我也不能再資助你目前的生活方式。如果我不得不假裝你已不存在,那就這樣吧!) — be that as it may 等於 even if that is true, in spite of that (即使真是這樣;儘管如此)。
  • I could mention other examples of your bad work, but suffice it to say (that) your performance has been unsatisfactory. (我還可以舉出你工作不力的其他事例,但我只要說你的表現一直不能讓人滿意就夠了,其他的就不必多說了) — suffice 為動詞;suffice it to say (that) 意為「只要說…就夠了」。

Q: Mary needn't have taken her umbrella. 和 Mary didn't need to take her umbrella. 有何不同?

A:needn’t have + P.P. 和 didn’t need to + 原形動詞都是在表示過去發生的事件。needn’t have done 是說本來不必做或用不著做,但卻做了;didn’t need to do 則是說不必做或用不著做,但有可能做了,也可能沒做。問題中 Mary needn’t have taken her umbrella. 的意思是說,瑪麗本來不用帶傘,但她卻帶了;而 Mary didn’t need to take her umbrella. 則是說她不必帶傘,但實際上可能帶了,也可能沒帶。因此,就 didn’t need to do something 的「不必」而言,實際上有沒有做,我們僅能從上下文來作判斷。請看下面的例句:

  1. I needn’t have prepared all that food. They phoned to say they wouldn’t be coming. (我原本不必準備那些食物。他們打電話來說不來了)
  2. I didn’t need to prepare all that food. They phoned to say they wouldn’t be coming. (我是不必準備那些食物的。他們打電話來說不來了)
  3. You needn’t have washed the dishes. I would’ve put them in the dishwasher. (你原本不必洗碗盤。我本來要把它們放到洗碗機去洗)
  4. You didn’t need to wash the dishes. I would’ve put them in the dishwasher. (你是不必洗碗盤的。我本來要把它們放到洗碗機去洗)
  5. The sun came out so we didn’t need to take any rainwear on the trip. (太陽出來了,所以此行我們不必帶雨衣了)
  6. We had plenty of petrol in the tank so we didn’t need to fill up. (油箱還有很多油,所以我們不必加油了)
  7. We didn’t need to wait for long for them. They arrived just after us. (我們不必等他們很久。他們就在我們之後到達)

上面第 1 至第 4 句都是不必做,但實際卻做了;第 1 和第 3 句很容易判斷,第 4 句也一看就知道,因為 I would’ve put them in the dishwasher. 是假設語氣,實際上碗盤並沒有被放入洗碗機裡面去洗,所以碗盤是用手洗的;第 2 句比較不容易判斷,但由於They phoned to say they wouldn’t be coming. 放在後面,因此認定應該是先準備好食物後,他們才來電說他們不來了。第 5 至第 7 句則是不必做,而事實上也沒做;第 7 句一看就知道,而第 5 和第 6 句應該也不難判斷,因為 The sun came out 和 We had plenty of petrol in the tank 發生在前 (原因),所以後面的動作就不必做了,實際上也沒有做 (結果)。

關於 need 的用法,還有一些地方需要注意。從上面的例句可知,這個字可作語氣助動詞或一般動詞用。當 need 作語氣助動詞用時,它幾乎都是用在否定句和 (少部分用在) 問句。若當一般動詞用,那麼它可用在肯定句、否定句和問句 (由此可知,在肯定句中,need 只能當一般動詞用)。所以,我們可以說

  • Need he study? (他必須唸書嗎?) 或
  • Does he need to study?

 

  • He needn’t study. (他不必唸書) 或
  • He doesn’t need to study.

 

  • He needs to study. (他必須唸書) (在肯定句中,need 只能用作一般動詞;主詞為第三人稱單數,動詞須加 s)

雖然 needn’t 和 don’t need to 可以互換,都是表示在立即的未來「不必」做某事 (請看下面的第 1 和第 2 句;我們也可將 need 用作名詞,如下面的第 3 句),但在表示「普遍的 (general) 不必」、而非「特定的 (specific) 不必」時,我們通常使用 don’t need to (第 4 句):

  1. You don’t need to water the garden this evening. It’s going to rain tonight. (今晚你不必到花園澆水了 — 因為今晚將會下雨)
  2. You needn’t water the garden this evening. It’s going to rain tonight.
  3. There’s no need to water the garden this evening. It’s going to rain tonight. (這三句都是指「今晚不必到花園澆水」此一特定事件的「不必」)
  4. You don’t need to pay for medical care in National Health Insurance hospitals. (在全民健保醫院看病不必付錢是「普遍的事件」。註:National Health Insurance 為我國全民健保,簡稱 NHI;National Health Service 為英國的全民健保,簡稱 NHS)

Q:But that there is water, there would be no fish. 這句是假設語氣的條件句,請問 But that 子句為何可以用現在式動詞?

A:But that 的意思是「若非;要不是」,是條件句的另一種句型。它的後面接子句,不過我們也可將之改為「but for + 名詞」(而 but for 又等於 without)。

由於 But that 子句敘述的是事實,所以若為現在式,則使用簡單現在式,若為過去式,則使用簡單過去式。而主要子句係屬假設的敘述 (非事實),所以若與現在事實相反,則句型為「主詞 + would/should/could/might + 原形動詞」;若與過去事實相反,則句型為「主詞 + would/should/could/might + have + P.P.」。不過,它們也都可以改為用 if 引導的假設語氣條件句。注意:此時 if 子句的敘述必須分別與現在和過去事實相反。請看下面的例句 (第一句為問題中的句子) 並加以分析,以徹底瞭解這些實用句型及其變化:

  1. But that there is water, (現在事實的敘述) there would be no fish. (與現在事實相反) — (要不是有水,就不可能有魚)
    = If there were no water, (若無水 — 與現在事實相反) there would be no fish.
    = But for water, there would be no fish.
    = Without water, there would be no fish. (but for = without,意思亦是「若非;要不是」,但後面接名詞)
  2. But that you helped me, (過去事實的敘述) I would not have succeeded. (與過去事實相反) — (要不是你幫忙,我就不會成功)
    = If you had not helped me, (如果沒有你的幫忙 — 與過去事實相反) I would not have succeeded.
    = But for your help, I would not have succeeded.
    = Without your help, I would not have succeeded.

Q:在 I would rather you went now. 這句中,went 是假設語氣用法嗎?

A:一點都沒錯。在 I would rather you went now. (我寧願你現在去) 這句中,went 的確是假設語氣的用法。這種 would rather (寧願,寧可) 句型在英文中頗為常見,其中 would 是句子的動詞,被副詞 rather 所修飾,而其後的子句是省略 that 的名詞子句,當 would 的受詞。雖然它們是指現在或未來的事件,但名詞子句的動詞要用過去式,表示「與現在事實相反」或「未來不太可能發生的事件或不太可能實現的願望」。茲再舉數例以加深讀者對此種句型的瞭解:

  • A: Shall we go out for dinner tonight? (今晚我們外出吃晚餐好嗎?)
    B: No, I’d rather we ate at home, if you don’t mind. (不,如果你不介意,我寧可在家用餐) — 不太可能在家用餐。
  • A: Shall I write to dad and tell him that we’ve sold the car? (我寫信告訴爸爸我們已賣掉車子好嗎)
    B: I’d rather you didn’t. (我寧願你不要寫) — 不寫信的可能性微乎其微。
  • My mother would rather we caught the bus, rather than walk home after the party. (我媽媽寧願我們在宴會後搭公車而不是走路回家) — 事實上,我們是走路回家的。

附帶一提的是,would rather 亦可寫成 had rather (但前者比後者常用多了),所以 I’d rather 可能是 I would rather、也可能是 I had rather 的縮寫,但意思是一樣的。

「如果最壞的情況發生」的翻譯

這句老掉牙的中文口語在英文中有幾句對應的翻譯,即 if worse come(s) to worst,if worst come(s) to worst,其中若為直述語氣,則動詞用 comes,若為假設語氣,則動詞用 come。此外,worse 或 worst 前面也可加上定冠詞 the。例如:Check with the company to see if they can fix the printer, if the worst comes to the worst, we’ll just buy a new one. (去找那家公司看看能不能修理這台印表機,如果實在不行 [即最壞的情況發生],那麼我們就買一台新的)。

有人可能質疑,worse 是形容詞 bad 的比較級,而 worst 是最高級,照理應該只有 if worse come(s) to worst 才對,但其實這幾句都是英文的標準用語,不折不扣的慣用語。雖然 if worst come(s) to worst 可能是 if worse come(s) to worst 的變形,但前者在使用頻率上反而比後者來得高。

再者,我們也可將 if 改為 when,使其變成 when worse come(s) to worst,when worst come(s) to worst;基本上,不管是 if 還是 when,它們的意思都是一樣的,但 if 似乎比較常用。除了上述的慣用語翻譯外,我們亦可使用非習慣用語的翻譯 if the least wanted situation develops 來表達相同的意思。