Gerunds preceded by a genitive
Because of its noun properties, the genitive (possessive case) is preferred for a noun or pronoun preceding a gerund.
- We enjoyed their [genitive] singing.
This usage is preferred in formal writing. The objective case is often used in place of the possessive, especially in casual situations:
- I do not see it making any difference.
In some cases, either the possessive or the objective case may be logical:
- The teacher's shouting startled the student. (Shouting is a gerund, and teacher's is a possessive pronoun. The shouting is the subject of the sentence.)
- The teacher shouting startled the student. (Shouting is a participle describing the teacher. This sentence means The teacher who was shouting startled the student. In this sentence, the subject is the teacher herself.)
Either of these sentences could mean that the student was startled because the teacher was shouting.
Using the objective case can be awkward if the gerund is singular but the other noun is plural. It can look like a problem with subject-verb agreement:
- The politicians' debating was interesting.
One might decide to make to be plural so that debating can be a participle.
- The politicians debating were interesting.
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