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令人頭痛的英文文法:Everyone/Anyone + their (所有格) ?
撰文者: Wayne 發表日期: September 9, 2011 – 4:40 am

版主今天收到網站代管公司的信件,內容提醒用戶防止被駭客入侵的方法。版主讀著讀著看到一處常令人困擾的英文文法規則,以前在翻譯科技論文時偶爾會被這項不大不小的問題絆住,常掌握不了正確的用法。下面是信件內容,我們先大致瀏覽一遍,再來講解規則:

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How can I prevent hacking?

1. The most important thing to do is keep your passwords a secret. If you must give a password to someone, be sure to change it when they are done using the access. Don’t write your passwords down or share them with too many people. Periodically change your passwords. You can find more by searching “How can I make a stronger password?”

2. Along the same idea, you need to make sure your personal computer does not have viruses, trojans, keyloggers, etc.

3. Keep your scripts and downloaded programs updated. Always upgrade to the latest version of your blog, forum, shopping cart, etc.

4. Do not have writable file permissions. The correct permissions are normally 755 or 644, and you can check these in your File Manager. Most users know to avoid 777 permissions, but you really want to avoid any permission settings which allow Group and World writing. (That’s anything ending in 7, 6, 3, or 2. The first number can be one of these, but not either of the last two numbers.)

translation

網友看到畫底線的文字嗎?前面先提到 someone,這是單數名詞,後面卻用 they (複數名詞)。這是很奇怪的用法,學過英文的人絕對不會說 ‘Everybody are here’,這句話一看就知道是錯誤的。然而,版主時常看到老美犯前面的錯誤,著實令人匪夷所思。

照理來說,上面的英文應該改寫成:

If you must give a password to someone, be sure to change it when he or she is done using the access.

然而,有許多美國人卻非常厭惡 ‘he or she’ 這種很憋腳的寫法,以前男性主導的環境中還可以只用 he 來泛指所有人,如今女權高漲,he 只能指男性,若要納入女性,後頭非得加 she 不可。

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只要搜尋一下網路,不難找到老美討論這點的貼文:

** 問題 **

Which is correct – ‘everybody has his or her opinion’ or ‘everybody has their opinion’?

** 回答 (1) **

It would be more correct to say “Everybody has his/her opinion.”

The use of their in this sentence would be correct, though it is widespread in American speech. Originally, one would say “Everybody has his opinion”, because “his” would refer to both men and women. However, as women’s rights activists became more vocal, it was deemed improper to use the masculine form to describe men and women.

Their is correct here. The use of their as a singular neuter pronoun has been valid for hundreds of years.

** 回答 (2) **

To answer your question: Yes, everyone is singular.

As to whether you should use his or their that really depends on what you were taught. Some people prefer their, others prefer his/her, and others prefer his.

As sound shift said some purists frown on using their (although that is what you would normally hear and even see).

Personally I would pick their.

I always use “they” in speech but would never use it in formal writing. I would opt for “his or her,” “one,” or a rewording of the sentence.

I would say it is fine, I am sure others would disagree – they would probably recommend his/her instead.

Basically, in colloquial English we can use “they” (and therefore all the associated words, “them” “their” etc) to refer to a single individual, if you don’t know who that person was, or don’t know their sex.

For example, “Someone robbed me in the street yesterday!” “oh no! “Did you see their face?”. In writing some people criticise this usage, but in speech it would sound very unnatural to say “Did you see this person’s face” or “Did you see his or her face?”.

One alternative is to always assume the masculine eg “everyone has a right to his privacy” and “Did you see his face?” but others dislike this choice because it is sexist to assume a male, or sometimes completely confusing as in my attacker example – someone may assume you are saying it was definitely a man, when it could have been a woman.

To sum up – I think it’s fine, but in writing if you want to avoid possible criticism write it another way.

Hope that helps.

translation

版主總結一下,在口語中有許多人都將這種錯誤視為正確用法,譬如: Has everyone finished their drinks? (大家都把酒喝光了嗎?) – 字典例句

不過,寫作時仍然要避免這種名詞與所有格不對稱的錯誤用法,要用 his (不顧男女平權) / his or her (兼顧男女平權), 或者重新改寫句子 (to reword the sentence) 。

  • Can how a baby cries predict his or her future language skills? – 不知道嬰兒的性別或泛指嬰兒時使用的句子
  • Somebody forgot his umbrella. => Somebody forgot his or her umbrella. – 改用 his or her
  • If anyone calls, tell them I’m out. =>If anyone calls, say I’m out. – 改寫句子
  • If anyone calls, tell them I’m out. => If any clients call, tell them I’m out. – 改寫句子 (以複數的型態來表達意思)

補充一下:anybody/ anyone / everybody / everyone / nobody / no one / somebody / someone 都是單數名詞,接所有格時要謹慎,注意別犯本篇提及的錯誤。

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