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    • Join Date: Nov 2005
    • Posts: 109

    my asking/his returning

    I often hear people say" if you don't mind my asking"; for some reason, I also think " the chance of his returning home", but not " the chance of he returning home", is correct.

    But what's wrong with "If you don't mind (that) I ask" and "the chance (that) he returns"? Can we also use them in our sentence?
    Last edited by MadHorse; 13-Dec-2005 at 23:38.

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: my asking/his returning

    If you don't mind my asking (possessive pronoun + gerund)
    If you don't mind me asking (fused participle: obj. pronoun + participle)
    If you don't mind *I asking (ungrammatical)

    gerund and possessives (fused participle). Some people insist that when a gerund is preceded by a noun or pronoun, the noun or pronoun must be in the possessive case. Accordingly, it is correct to say I can understand his wanting to go, but incorrect to say I can understand him wanting to go. But the construction without the possessive, sometimes called the fused participle, has been used by respected writers for 300 years and is perfectly idiomatic. Moreover, there is often no way to “fix” the construction by inserting the possessive. This is often the case with common nouns. Thus you can say We have had very few instances of luggage being lost, but not … of luggage’s being lost.

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    • Join Date: Nov 2005
    • Posts: 109

    Re: my asking/his returning

    Thanks Casiopea, that clarified things for me.


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