Re: gerunds and possesion

Subject: Re: gerunds and possesion
From: Brad Connatser <concom -at- USIT -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 1996 18:56:04 GMT

In article
<c=AU%a=_%p=softlaw%l=RAS-960820053550Z-328 -at- ras -dot- softlaw -dot- com -dot- au>, Kip Dale
<kipd -at- softlaw -dot- com -dot- au> wrote:

> Rebecca M. Phillips asks about using a possesive with a gerund. I
> have a feeling that this may be an example of language's changing
> character (Ha...I knew I could do it).

> I'm usually pretty good with spotting "incorrect" usage. I had to look
> twice to find the "offending" passage. And now, my example looks
> odd to me. Anyone else??

If you are refering to the word "changing" in your sentence, it is not
used as a gerund--it is a present participle used as an adjective to
modify "character" (gerunds are present participles used as nouns). I
think that the reason for making the subject of a gerund possessive is
that the possessive can resolve an otherwise ambiguous statement, such as:

I resent Mark's telling Nancy about her surprise party.

Here, "I" doesn't necessarily resent Mark, but that he revealed a secret.
Without the possessive, the sentence could be construed as "I resent

However, I don't buy that rationale. When we speak, we don't (at least I
don't) make the subject of a gerund possessive. Of course, we have a
different standard for writing (notice I didn't say "higher").
Nevertheless, when I read a sentence that has a possessive for the subject
of a gerund, it sounds pretentious.


Brad Connatser
Concurrent Communications
concom -at- usit -dot- net

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