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论文写作技巧系列 | “which”的使用与“比较”

论文写作技巧系列 | “which”的使用与“比较”


“that” 还是“which”

“which”如果使用不当可引起歧义。它常与“that”混用。“that”和“which”都引导定语从句,但“that”用于引导限定性从句,而“which”用于引导非限定性从句。


例如,“the sections that were positive for GFP were subjected to cell counting procedures”,在这个句子中,“that”引导的是限定性从句明确规定了是哪些切片用于细胞计数。相比之下,“the sections, which were positive for GFP, were subjected to cell counting procedures”,在这个句子中,对用于细胞计数的切片的规定相当宽松,可能指的是前一个句子或相临句子中提及的切片。提及GFP阳性的从句可以向读者提供一些额外的信息,但对于理解该句子的意义来说并非必不可少;也就是说,它是可有可无的。考虑到“which”的这种角色,研究人员在撰写论文时应明确“which”一词确切指代的东西——有时指代的是该词所紧跟的事物(这是最常见的),有时指代的则是该句子的主语。


例如,“microglia migrated to the site of the lesion, which was associated with increased levels of ED-1”,这个句子就写得含混不清,因为我们很难确定“which”所指的到底是lesion,还是migration of microglia。如果读者可能会对此类句子产生疑惑,最好是推翻重写;例如,可以改为“migration of microglia to the site of the lesion was associated with increased levels of ED-1”,也可改为“microglia migrated to the site of the lesion, and immunohistochemical analysis revealed increased levels of ED-1 at this site”。两者均无歧义。


•“Data were normalised to the housekeeping gene actin, which was used as an internal reference…” (在这个句子中,“which”指代的是actin,因此actin也就是该从句的主语)

•“Data were normalised to the internal reference housekeeping gene actin, revealing increases in the levels of…”(如指随后从句中的分析数据,使用“which revealed”是不恰当的,且会造成歧义)


"比较"

在一篇论文的“结果”部分常常需要进行“比较”,而“在同类事物中”(like with like)作比较尤为重要。对于母语为非英语的作者来说,最常见的一个错误是忽视了这一简单规则,导致读者往往很难搞清到底是什么跟什么在作比较。在最好的情况下,作者语言生硬,但至少能说明比较对象;而在最差的情况下,作者所阐述的内容根本风马牛不相及。


举例来说,“Expression levels of p53 in smokers were compared with non-smokers”是不对的,应改成“Expression levels of p53 in smokers were compared with those in non-smokers”。在进行比较时,另一常见错误是在使用关系词语(如higher、greater、more)时未提及参照对象。如,“transgenic mice showed higher levels of cortisol”,在这个句子中,作者并未说明这些“levels”是高于何物;因此,我们必须加上“than从句”,如“than control mice”。读者有时当然会想当然地假定是与对照组在做比较,但在某些情况下读者有可能得出其他推论,因此,要做到准确地撰写科研论文,一定要消除所有“假定”。由于结果的比较对于结果的解读乃至其意义的判定来说至关重要,作者一定要准确地告知读者确切的比较对象。最后,“between”一词用于两个事物的比较,“among”则用于三个或三个以上事物的比较。

 

•“The levels of ubiquitinated proteins were higher in patients than in control subjects” (“than从句”提供了“higher”一词的参照组)

•“The levels of ubiquitinated proteins in patients were higher than those in control subjects” (在第一个例子中,患者组和对照组均位于比较词的同侧,即,它们均在“higher”之后被提及;而在这个例子中,患者组和对照组出现在比较词的异侧,因此,需要在对同类事物进行比较时加上“than those”)

•“There was no significant difference in the levels of ubiquitinated proteins between patients and controls” (这是两组之间的比较,故用“between”)

•“There were no significant differences in the levels of ubiquitinated proteins among AD patients, PD patients and controls”(这里比较的对象超过了3组患者,故用“among”;请注意这里“differences”采用了复数形式,因为当3组或3组以上进行比较时,差异的类型可能不只一种)