书城外语葛传椝向学习英语者讲话

第10章 What Does "Would of Come" Mean?

Once a young man found the expression "would of come" in a magazine and asked me to explain it.

Do you understand it,reader? Have you ever seen such expressions as "would of come","should of gone","might of done","could of learnt","ought to of known"?

You may or may not have seen such expressions.They are not uncommon in short stories and dramas.But grammars do not usually mention them.So I am afraid that you do not understand them.You think they are simply ungrammatical.

Well,they are ungrammatical; but there are many ungrammatical expressions that are worth knowing[1].You ought to learn to use English correctly.But you ought as well[2] to learn to understand the incorrect expressions that are common among Englishmen or Americans.It is partly owing to their ignorance of such incorrect expressions[3] that many Chinese learners can parse and analyse well without being able to read a single page in an English-language magazine published in England or America.

Substitute[4] "have" for the "of" in each of the abovementioned expressions,and you will understand what it means.

"Why is ‘of’ used instead of ‘have’?" you may ask.Well,the mistake is but[5] natural.In "would have","should have",etc.,the "have" is unemphatic and is often pronounced like the unemphatic "of".On the other hand,the "have" in "I have it" is emphatic,and such a sentence as "I of it" is never spoken or written.

Need I add that "of" used instead of "have" is always wrong and that you should not use "would of","should of",etc.in your own writing.There are many mistakes that are common among Englishmen or Americans but from which we Chinese are absolutely free.As I have said,you ought to understand them,but you ought not to adopt them as ornaments of style[6].

NOTES

[1]are worth knowing 有知道的价值

[2]as well 也

[3]partly owing to their ignorance of such incorrect expressions 一部分因为他们不知道这种不正确的表达方式。

[4]Substitute … 以……代入

substitute "have" for the "of"以“have”代这个“of”

[5]but=only

[6]ornaments of style 文体上的装饰品

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