冠詞、限定詞和量詞
Articles, Determiners, and Quantifiers

 


定義

冠詞、限定詞和量詞是指放在名詞前面並修飾名詞的字眼:

the teacher, a college, a bit of honey, that person, those people, whatever purpose, either way, your choice

有時候這些字是在告訴讀者或聽者我們到底是在指特定的事物還是指一般的事物 (a barn, the garage out back);有時候它們是在告訴讀者或聽者數目多少或多少量 (lots of trees, several books, a great deal of confusion)。對以英語為母語的寫作者來說,如何適當地挑選名詞或名詞片語前面的冠詞或限定詞,通常不是問題;但對非英語系國家 (尤其是東歐及亞洲國家) 的寫作者而言,這可能是他們邁向精通英語之路的一大障礙。事實上,許多非英語系國家的寫作者往往在英文其他各個層面駕輕就熟多年之後,仍然被這些「輕薄短小」的字搞得一個頭兩個大。

你可以在閱讀量詞之前先賭冠詞為快。

量詞

與冠詞一樣,量詞 (quantifiers) 也是放在名詞前面並修飾名詞的字。它們告訴我們「多少」(how many or how much)。如何挑選正確的的量詞,端視你對可數名詞與不可數名詞之區別的瞭解程度而定。我們以可數名詞 trees 和不可數名詞 dancing 來做說明:

  

下列量詞用在可數名詞:

many trees
a few trees
few trees
several trees
a couple of trees
none of the trees

下列量詞用在不可數名詞:

not much dancing
a little dancing
little dancing
a bit of dancing
a good deal of dancing
a great deal of dancing
no dancing

下列量詞用在可數名詞和不可數名詞:

all of the trees/dancing
some trees/dancing
most of the trees/dancing
enough trees/dancing
a lot of trees/dancing
lots of trees/dancing
plenty of trees/dancing
a lack of trees/dancing

在正式學術文章的寫作中,使用 manymuch 通常優於 a lot of, lots ofplenty of 等片語。

"a little""little" (用在不可數名詞)之間以及"a few""few" (用在可數名詞) 之間有很大的不同。如果我說 "Tashonda has a little experience in management." 這意思是說雖然 Tashonda 沒有專家級的經驗,但她還是有些經驗,而該些經驗可能已足夠我們的要求。如果我說 "Tashonda has little experience in management." 這意思是說 Tashonda 沒有足夠的經驗。如果我說 "Charlie owns a few books on Latin American literature." 這意思是說 Charlie 有一些書 -- 不是很多書,但可能已足供我們參考。如果我說 "Charlie owns few books on Latin American literature." 這意思是說他的書不夠我們做參考,我們最好上圖書館。

除非與 of 連用,否則 "much" 這個量詞都用在疑問句和否定句:

  • Much of the snow has already melted.
  • How much snow fell yesterday?
  • Not much.

注意:"most of the" 這個量詞在修飾特定名詞時必須包括定冠詞 the,不管該名詞可數或不可數:"most of the instructors at this college have a doctorate"; "most of the water has evaporated." 然而,若為普通複數名詞,亦即不是指特定的實體,那麼 "of the" 被省略:

  • Most colleges have their own admissions policy.
  • Most students apply to several colleges.

不定冠詞有時跟量詞 many 連用,因而形成一種將複數量詞與單數名詞結合在一起的情況 (後面接單數動詞):

  • Many a young man has fallen in love with her golden hair.
  • Many an apple has fallen by October.

這種結構帶有一點文學味道 (有些人則說是一種索然、陳腐的味道),所以若不能完全不用,最好也應少用。

冠詞

三個冠詞 -- a, an, the -- 都是形容詞。the 叫做定冠詞 (definite article),因為它明確地指出名詞;aan 叫做不定冠詞 (indefinite articles),因為它們未明確指出名詞。這些字也叫做名詞限定詞 (noun determiners),因為它們的後面跟著名詞。

注意!即使在你學會了這些冠詞的所有應用規則之後,你仍會發現有許多情況你不知道在何處使用正確的冠詞或是否使用冠詞。Icy highways are dangerous. The icy highways are dangerous. 兩句都正確。

The 係放在特定名詞的前面。當名詞是同類中的唯一時, 我們須使用 the

The moon circles the earth.

當名詞指的是理論上的事物時, 我們須使用 the

The United States has encouraged the use of the private automobile as opposed to the use of public transit.

當名詞指的是文章中先前已提到的事物時, 我們須使用 the (參見下面的首次提及與後續的提及)。

不定冠詞 a 係放在第一個字母為子音的單數可數名詞的前面 (a cow, a barn, a sheep),而 an 則放在第一個字母為母音或發音類似母音的單數可數名詞的前面 (an apple, an urban blight, an open door)。第一個字母為 h 而且發 h 音的字通常使用 a (如 a horse, a history book, a hotel),但如果一個 h 字的開頭是發真正的母音,則使用 an (如 an hour, an honor)。我們要說  a useful devicea union matter,因為這些字的 u 實際上是發 yoo 的音 (相較於 an ugly incident u)。我們要說 a once-in-a-lifetime experience 或 a one-time hero 因為 onceone 的開頭是發 w 的音。

韋氏字典 (Webster's Dictionary) 說我們可以在第一音節為弱音節 (非重音節) 的 h 字前面使用 an。因此,我們可以說 an hisTORical moment,但我們要說 a HIStory book。許多寫作者稱這是一種嬌飾而比較喜歡使用 a historical,但顯然地,這種選擇應該是視個人的喜好而定。

縮寫與頭字語的冠詞問題 (a or an FBI agent?)請參考縮寫

首次提及與後續的提及:當我們在文章中首次提到某事物時,我們通常使用不定冠詞來修飾它。

A newspaper has an obligation to seek out and tell the truth.

然而,在後續提到這份報紙時,我們要使用定冠詞:

There are situations, however, when the newspaper must determine whether the public's safety is jeopardized by knowing the truth.

再舉一例:

"I'd like a glass of orange juice, please," John said.
"I put the glass of juice on the counter already," Shiela replied.

例外的情況:當有個修飾語出現在冠詞與名詞之間時,後續的冠詞將繼續是不定冠詞:

"I'd like a big glass of orange juice, please," John said.
"I put a big glass of juice on the counter already," Shiela replied.

總稱 (generic) 的提及:我們可以使用三個冠詞中的任一個來提及某事物的總稱。完全省略冠詞也可以表達相同的意思。

  • A beagle makes a great hunting dog and family companion.
  • An airedale is sometimes a rather skittish animal.
  • The golden retriever is a marvelous pet for children.
  • Irish setters are not the highly intelligent animals they used to be.

總稱不定代名詞與一般不定代名詞之間的差異,在於後者是指該種類中的任一個 ("I want to buy a beagle, and any old beagle will do.")而前者 (見 第一句 A beagle ...) 是指該種類的全部。

專有名詞:有數種專有名詞必須加定冠詞:

  • 地名:the Sound, the Sea of Japan, the Mississippi, the West, the Smokies, the Sahara
  • 複數化的地名、姓氏 (家族) 和球隊名稱:the Netherlands, the Bahamas, the Hamptons, the Johnsons, the New England Patriots
  • 公共機構 (社會或教育事業機構)/設施/團體組織:the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Sheraton, the House, the Presbyterian Church
  • 報紙:the Hartford Courant, the Times
  • 後面接以 "of" 做開頭的介系詞片語的名詞:the leader of the gang, the president of our club

零冠詞:有數種名詞從不加冠詞。語言的名稱不加冠詞 ("He was learning Chinese." -- 但當 Chinese 這個字指的是中國人時,定冠詞就要登場了:"The Chinese are hoping to get the next Olympics."),體育運動的名稱也不加冠詞 ("She plays badminton and basketball."),學術科目亦是零冠詞 ("She's taking economics and math. Her major is Religious Studies.")。

當不可數名詞及(有時)複數可數名詞為總稱名詞時,它們不加冠詞:"We like wine with our dinner. We adore Baroque music. We use roses for many purposes." 但如果名詞的後面接 "of 片語",那麼要加冠詞:"We adore the music of the Baroque." 再者,當某一不加冠詞的總稱名詞在後續的提及中被提到時,它將變成特定的名詞,須加定冠詞:"The Data Center installed computers in the Learning Center this summer. The computers, unfortunately, don't work."。

普通可數名詞在某些特殊情況中不加冠詞:

使用 bego 的成語 We'll go by train. (相對於 "We'll take the train.)
He must be in school.
社會或教育事業機構 He's in church/college/jail/class.
季節 In spring, we like to clean the house.
三餐 Breakfast was delicious.
He's preparing dinner by himself.
疾病 He's dying of pneumonia.
Appendicitis nearly killed him.
She has cancer
(你有時會聽到或看到 "the measles" 和 "the mumps",但這些複數型當單數用的疾病名稱也可以不加冠詞。)
時間 We traveled mostly by night.
We'll be there around midnight.

我們可以簡要的定義,限定詞就是一種名詞標記 (noun-marker):當你看到限定詞時,你就知道後面接的是名詞或名詞片語。零冠詞的意思是,某些名詞不適合加任何冠詞或那些名詞在上下文中可以不加冠詞。

注意:「強調的、重讀的」someany 與「非強調的、弱讀的」someany 之間是有差別的。將下面句子中的 someany 視為喊叫字,你就可以聽出這兩者之間的不同:

  • That is SOME car you've got there!
  • I don't want to hear ANY excuse!

相對於

  • We have some cars left in the lot.
  • Isn't there any furniture in the living room?

就弱讀的 some any 通常所修飾的字而言,它們不修飾單數可數名詞。
 

Guide to Grammar and Writing