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英文论文写作中的不当用词

笔者从事论文编辑时,发现了许多作者在选择用词上犯的错误,通常语法和句法错误容易避免,但词和词组的误用却是比比皆是。这些用法非常普遍,以至于作者通常意识不到它们不对。

分析其中原因,主要有两点:一是由于母语为非英语的作者和编辑越来越多,大家没有发觉其用法是不当的;二是由于在非正式的写作和口语中也会见到这类错误的用法,久而久之,大家就习以为常了。

虽然语言始终是变化的,随着时间的推移,有些现在被认为是错误的,也许以后用的人太多,就变成正确的了。但在科学写作中,我们还是应该尽量遵守严谨的写作规则,在选择词或词组时应选择常见的、确定无误的用法。在这里,笔者总结了一些论文中常见的误用范例供大家参考。

范例一:use,utilize 和 using

许多人喜欢用utilize 代替use 表示“用”的意思。但是这两个词有明确而不同的定义,不能混用。use是最普遍的用法,可以表示一切“用”,但多指用其本身的用途,比如use 血压计量血压。而utilize是用其本身没有的用途,比如utilize 钥匙开瓶盖。

因此,在科学论文中utilize几乎没有机会使用到,而用use始终正确。Using也经常被误用:QoL was evaluated using Hamilton scale。此处语法上不正确,正确的用法是前面加个“by”: QoL wasevaluated by using Hamilton scale。

范例二:due to 和 because of

用due to代替because of在笔者编辑过的论文里也非常常见,但这是错误的。Due to的意思是causedby,做形容词用,修饰的是名词,而becauseof做介词用。

比如:He died frompneumonia due to (caused by) a severe infection 是正确的,due to asevere infection形容pneumonia。而 He was hospitalized due to a severe infection 是错误的,此处应该用becauseof。

范例三:compared with 和 compared to

Compare这个词,每篇论文都会用到,比如在结果和讨论中经常见到compared with 或 compared to the control group。笔者的经验是,用comparedwith,不用compared to。

在比较两者时,compared with是最普遍的用法,也最安全,着重的是两者的不同点,compared to则意在强调相同点。在论文中我们通常着重的是不同点,因此应该用compared with。

范例四:before 和 prior to

越来越多的人用prior to表示“在之前”来代替before。而实际上,prior to只表示重要性,而非时间上的“在之前”,因此许多时候应该用before。但是prior to现在已变得非常普遍,有些编辑也把它当做正确用法了。

范例五:after 和following

虽然用following表示时间上紧接着发生很常见,但following是形容词,不能代替after,所以这句话语法上是错的:angiography was conducted following a MI.

(责任编辑邮箱:zhouhz@efnchina.com)

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