Tag Archives: possessive

#GrammarTrivia: Possessives with Gerunds

adolescent blur child close up
“I love you singing” or “I love your singing?” Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

We all have that one friend who sings beautifully, albeit never considering singing as a professional career. What should we say to compliment him/her? Do we say, “I love you singing,” or do we say, “I love your singing?” Which one is correct, fellas?

@ghaniginanjar: The second one. I love your singing.

@KushalRJoshi: Second one?

@endang_yl: I love your singing.

@XxKit_kat: The 2nd one ‘I love your singing’ = ‘I love the sound of your voice when you sing’.

 

On one fine afternoon, you and a friend are out for a walk. You pass a bus stop where a woman seems to be crying. Do you say to your friend, “Did you see that woman crying?” or do you say, “Did you see that woman’s crying?”

@Goyoomin: Did you see that woman crying?

 

So, what is the difference between these two situations? Why do we use the possessive form ‘your singing’ in the first example, but then we use ‘see that woman crying’ in the second example?

Let’s go back to what gerund is. Gerund is a verb that has transformed into and functions as a noun. Therefore, the way we use gerund should always be in line with the way we use a noun, including combining it with a possessive form.

If we see a sentence like the one in the first example, “I love your singing,” it’s very likely that the thing we love is ‘the singing that belong to you.’ ‘Singing‘ here is something owned by ‘you,’ or in other words, ‘your singing.’

What about the second example? Does it make sense if I modify the sentence into, “Did you see that crying woman?” Does the sentence still have the same meaning?

Crying‘ in the second example is not a gerund. It is in fact an adjective, modifying ‘that woman.’ Therefore, we do not need to use a possessive form like we did with the first example.

Two tips to determine whether a verb -ing should come with a possessive form or not:

  1. Check the object of our action. In the first example, is it the ‘you’ that you love or is it the ‘singing that belongs to you?’
  2. Try switching the sentence’s structure. Modifying the first sentence into ‘I love singing you’ does not quite make the same sense as modifying the second sentence into ‘Did you see that crying woman?’

 

Exercise:

  1. Do you mind (me/my) asking questions?
  2. No, not at all. I appreciate (you/your) coming to me.
  3. I heard about the (project/project’s) being cancelled.
  4. In fact, we anticipate the possibility of (it/its) succeeding.

 

Answer:

  1. “Do you mind my asking questions?”
    Checklist:
    – What will the other person mind about?
    The action ‘asking questions’ that belongs to the speaker. ‘Asking questions’ here is a gerund.
    – How could we modify the sentence into?
    The sentence could be modified into, “Do you mind asking me questions?” or “Do you mind asking my questions?” which does not have the same meaning as the primary sentence.
  2. “No, not at all. I appreciate your coming to me.”
    Checklist:
    – What does the speaker appreciate?
    The action ‘coming to me’ that belongs to the interlocutor. ‘Coming to me’ here is a gerund.
    – How could we modify the sentence into?
    The sentence could be modified into, “I appreciate coming you to me,” which does not have any clear meaning.
  3. “I heard about the project being almost cancelled.”
    Checklist:
    – What did the speaker hear about?
    The project is being almost cancelled. ‘Being almost cancelled’ here is an adjective.
    – How could we modify the sentence into?
    The sentence could be modified into, “I heard about the almost-cancelled project,” which has the exact same meaning as the primary sentence.
  4. “In fact, we anticipate the possibility of its succeeding.”
    Checklist:
    – What does the speaker anticipate?
    The success of the project. ‘Succeeding’ here is a gerund.
    – How could we modify the sentence into?
    The sentence could be modified into, “In fact, we anticipate the possibility of succeeding it,” which creates double meanings. It can mean that the project is being successful or it can mean that the project is being followed by another project. The phrase ‘its succeeding’ will remove the ambiguity.

 

Special shout-out to one of our fellas who sent us a question about how to use possessives with gerunds during our LINE chat session. If you would like a one-one-one consultation as well, add us on LINE .

 

Compiled by @alicesaraswati for @EnglishTips4U on Wednesday, 16 May, 2018.


RELATED POST(S):

Advertisements