Vocabulary

Sure, certain, definite 三个表示 “确定” 的形容词

单词 “sure、certain” 和 “definite” 都是形容词,都有 “确定的,肯定的” 意思。虽然它们的意思相近,但用法却不完全相同,也不能随意互换,这是因为能与 “sure、certain” 和 “definite” 搭配使用的动词和介词是不一样的。
我们通过一段话来对比分析它们之间的区别。故事中讲述了一个聚会策划人 “a party planner” 预订蛋糕的故事。

The party planner was certain that everything was ready. He had asked the bakery to deliver the cake at 1pm and had been very definite about its design and colour. The dancers would arrive at 3 – that was definite. The caterers had been told to make sure there was enough vegetarian and vegan food. He was sure that everything would go smoothly.

这段话的大致意思是:一个聚会策划人很确定一切都万无一失。他订了一个蛋糕,而且对送货时间、外形设计和颜色都非常确定。他还安排了舞蹈表演,并确定表演者会准时到场。策划人还确保给吃素食和严格素食的客人们准备了足够的饭菜。他确信一切都会按计划进行。

下面我们就通过分析 “sure、certain” 和 “definite” 在这段话中的用法来对比它们的共同点和区别。首先,如果一件事情 “a thing is sure/certain/definite”,那么这件事情就非常有可能发生。如果一个人对一件事情感到 “sure、certain” 或 “definite”,那么这个人则对这件事情会按照计划发展不抱有任何的疑问。这三个词的后面都可以接以 “that” 引导的从句,也都可以和介词 “about” 搭配使用。在下面这两句话中,“sure、certain” 和 “definite” 可以互换使用,句意不发生改变。

The party planner was certain/sure/definite that everything was ready.
He was sure/certain/definite that everything would go smoothly.

形容词 “sure” 和 “certain” 的后面都可以接介词 “of”—— be sure of/be certain of。来听一句话,在这句话中,“sure” 和 “certain” 可以互换使用,句意不发生改变,但不能用 “definite”。

The team had never been so certain/sure of winning before. They were very sure/certain of their coming victory.
(这支队伍以前从来没有这么有把握能赢比赛。他们对即将到来的胜利确信无疑。)

所以说,“definite” 的后面只能跟 “about”—— definite about,或 “definite” 加 “that” 引导的从句,来表示对一件事情极其清楚、非常明确,毫无疑问。比如,故事中提到聚会策划人 “让面包房在下午一点送货,而且对蛋糕的样式和颜色的要求非常明确”。

He had asked the bakery to deliver the cake at 1pm and had been very definite about its design and colour.

下面,我们来介绍几个包含 “sure” 和 “certain” 的常用搭配。我们可以说 “make sure” 确保,确定,也可以说 “make certain” 确保。比如,上面的小故事里提到:“负责餐饮的工作人员被告知要确保有足够的素食和纯素食品”。
The caterers had been told to make sure/certain there was enough vegetarian and vegan food.

搭配 “be sure/certain of something” 也有 “保证,确认” 的意思;而 “be sure/ certain of someone” 的意思则是 “相信某人,对某人有信心”。来看两个用到了 “be sure of someone” 和 “be certain of someone” 的例句。

You can always be sure of your family. We will never let you down.
(你可以相信你的家人们。我们永远不会让你失望。)
She’s always very certain of herself. She doesn’t get intimidated by difficult tasks.
(她总是很自信,从来不会被困难的任务吓倒。)

除了上面的这几个搭配外,“be sure/certain to” 后面加上动词原形可以表达事情 “肯定,一定会发生”。这里,“sure” 和 “certain” 可以互换使用。
She’s sure/certain to fall asleep as soon as she arrives home from work.
You should take part in the race! You’re certain/sure to win!

在口头交流中,大家可能会常听到英语为母语的人说:“for sure” 和 “for certain”,这个表达方式通常是用来解释一件事情是 “极有可能,确定无疑地,肯定地”。“For sure” 和 “for certain” 的意思和用法都完全一样。请看两个例句。
One thing’s for sure, I’ll never eat at this restaurant again!
I know for certain that I’m flying to America next week.

上面我们讲了 “sure、definite” 和 “certain” 都是形容词,意思非常相似,虽然 “sure” 和 “certain” 突出表达一个人对某件事情是非常 “确定的”,而 “definite” 则更多被用来强调对某件事情的细节是 “非常确定的、清楚的”。在很多情况下,这三个词语都可以相互替换使用,但具体能否替换还要根据与其搭配的动词和介词而定。“Sure” 和 “certain” 的动词和介词搭配用法几乎完全相同,所以基本上可以随意互换使用。

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