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This time we’ll look at a frequently used noun with different meanings in the singular and in the plural forms.



T: Thomas, S: Sandy


T: Good morning, Sandy. Why, you do look troubled!


S: Oh, it’s only I am a little bewildered by a sign I have come across lately in the mall. Why is the sign saying “Repair works are in progress”?


T: OK, I see, you are troubled by a peculiarity of English. English is a language that features rather few basic words, while there are a lot of higher order or abstract or even technical words. So, sometimes you need to use the same word to do more than one job.


S: Please explain more.


T: Usually, “work” means simply a task, like “housework”, “classwork”. But this word can also be used in the plural form to mean something else, like using “works” to refer to either artistic creations, like Mozart’s works or to construction tasks. One more use of “works” is to refer to an industrial plant, such as motorcar works, meaning factory. For this usage “works” is always used in the plural form.


S: It’s clear now. Thank you, sir!


T: Sandy,早晨。你為何皺著眉頭?


S: 噢 !我最近在商場見到一張告示,令我有點不惑。為甚麼告示寫上「Repairing works are in progress」?


T: 我明白了,原來你被英語的特殊性peculiarity of English)所困擾。英語是一種很少基本詞的語言。因此,有時需要使用相同的名詞去表達超過一個意思。


S: 請你再解釋一下。


T: 通常「work」在英語指一項任務,如「housework」(家務)、「classwork」(堂課)。但是這名詞用作複數時有另一含義,如「works」解作藝術創作,好似莫扎特嘅作品。又可以指建築工程;或者工廠,例如汽車廠。就此涵義,「works」多數以複數形態出現。


S: 現在我清楚了。多謝老師 !