半音階專區

time expression after when clause [2003/8/28]

以下是我以前所貼的一篇問題和國外網友的答覆,現在放在此處供各位有興趣研究較細語文問題的網友參考。


 
網上論壇:alt.usage.english日期:1999/10/29

 

I've just come across the following two sentences on two books teaching
English grammar to Asians, both written by reputable scholars who are
native English speakers:

1. When it began to rain, I stood under a tree.
2. When Dick left school, he worked for several years in a zoo.

According to my language intuition, developed over the years by
extensive reading, when one uses a when-clause to introduce a sentence
with two actions in the past tense, the second action, which is in the
main clause, usually "happens" immediately following the first action in
the when-clause, and the two actions should happen roughly across the
same time-span, as in the following example: "When the king entered the
room, everyone stood up." both "enter" and "stand up" are actions that
take only moments to start and to complete.

But in the first sentence, "begin" is an action that happens in a flash,
while "stand" is a "continuity verb" that, unless otherwise stated,
indicates only a status that you wouldn't when is its beginning and end.
If I were to write the sentence I'd say: "When it began to rain, I was
standing under a tree." or "When it began to rain, I immediately sought
shelter under a tree."

And I think in the second sentence, the "timing effect"of the time
clause "When Dick left school" shouldn't be able to cover that long as
"several years".  I would prefer to say: "After Dick left school, he
worked for several years in a zoo." or "When Dick left school, he went
to work in a zoo, and stay there for several years until..."

I wonder if the time clauses in these two sentences are simply oversight
of the authors, or they are, contratry to my understanding of English
grammar,  standard English usage anyway?

Can you gentlemen who know English grammar well please enlighten me?
第 2 條留言
寄件者:Rushtown ([email protected])
主旨:Re: time expression of the main clause after a when-clause
 
 
View this article only
網上論壇:alt.usage.english
日期:1999/10/29
 

 


No native English speaker would think to question those two sentences.  They
seem
perfectly proper.  Don't analyze so much.

第 3 條留言
寄件者:arjay ([email protected])
主旨:Re: time expression of the main clause after a when-clause
 
 
View this article only
網上論壇:alt.usage.english
日期:1999/10/29
 

Rushtown <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
>
>
> No native English speaker would think to question those two sentences. They
> seem
> perfectly proper.  Don't analyze so much.

*Few* native English speakers would think to question those two sentences.
They seem perfectly proper at first glance.
But Mark Taiwan is correct.
Nonetheless, most of us speak in sentences such as those cited.
If the books in question deal with colloquial English, the sentences are
acceptable.
They would not be satisfactory in formal writing.

I suggest that a good (if lofty) model for learning English grammar is
Claude Debussy's study of music.  He explained that he desired to know every
ramification of every rule and custom of composition and harmony, so that he
could honestly claim to know what he was doing when he broke those rules as
a composer.

arjay
第 4 條留言
寄件者:Perchprism ([email protected])
主旨:Re: time expression of the main clause after a when-clause
 
 
View this article only
網上論壇:alt.usage.english
日期:1999/10/29
 


I know only my own English, acquired the same way you got yours, and I may or
may not be a gentleman, and enlightenment is too much to ask of anybody, but,
OK. Very clever name, by the way--you got me.

"To stand" isn't always so continuous in its meaning. I read "When it began to
rain, I stood under a tree" to mean unambiguously that you positioned yourself
erect under a tree because it started to rain (is there no lightning in
Taiwan?). I'd say that that part of your analysis falls down. Where "stand" is
familiar, as in "stand in the corner," ambiguity can result: "He stood in the
corner" can mean that he was to spend some time there as punishment, or it can
mean that he positioned himself there, as a detective might who was examining a
crime scene from a certain angle.

As for Dick, I think you're right, but most people aren't so fussy and wouldn't
hear anything wrong if you explained it to them. If I wrote that sentence, I'd
have to be in a certain mood to even notice a problem in editing. I don't mean
that "When Dick left school, he worked for several years in a zoo" is wrong,
but I think it's just the teensiest bit sloppy in the way that you have
divined.

--
Perchprism
(southern New Jersey, near Philadelphia)

第 5 條留言
寄件者:Einde O'Callaghan ([email protected])
主旨:Re: time expression of the main clause after a when-clause
 
 
View this article only
網上論壇:alt.usage.english
日期:1999/10/29
 


I'm afraid the sensitivity control on your language intuition is turned
up too high. There is no requirement that the various verbs in a
sentence should correspond in the way you suggest. The only thing that
these sentences say is that after one thing happened another thing
happened.

BTW you could reverse the two clauses of those sentences without
affecting the meaning, only the emphasis.

eo'c
第 6 條留言
寄件者:[email protected] ([email protected])
主旨:Re: time expression of the main clause after a when-clause
 
 
日期:1999/10/29
 

In article <[email protected]>,
  [email protected] wrote:


I did a very slight double-take over the first sentence.  This would be
because I do not hear or use "stood" in its sense "to take a standing
position" as often as I hear or use it in its sense "to remain upon
one's feet for a period of time".  Perchprism, who provided the
explanation, and the others who found this sentence not problematic even
to the slightest degree, must encounter this usage more often than I.

But I am far from saying that the first sentence is in any way
incorrect; only that it took me a moment to realize that a sense of
"stood" other than my usual one was intended.  To take your own
illustrative sentence, I doubt you would have a problem with "When the
king entered, the people stood." Or "When the magician entered, the
children stood on their chairs."

As to the second sentence, I think that it is, again, ever-so-slightly
jarring, for the reason you give; still, "when" is often used in this
kind of construction to mean simply "after".

Gary Williams

© 2003 顏子英漢書院 All rights reserved.版權所有
郵政劃撥帳號:郵局代號:700 局號:2441362 帳號:1988992
匯款帳戶:彰化銀行代號:009 帳號:51855170292500
地址:台北縣瑞芳鎮岳王路 17 號