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    #1

    An advanced grammatical problem

    Hi guys, I am having a problem which I don't know what to call it grammatically. It starts with a sentence like this: Are you that really that bent out of shape over my borrowing a shirt. My problem is the word: "my". I do not know whether I should use the word "my" or "me" in this situation. Because in another situation, I have a sentence like this: This was the first time he wasn't worried about me breaking anything. I think these two sentence are grammatically similar but in the second one, we use :"me" instead of "my".
    I am very confused, so can anyone tell me what is the problem I am talking about. And by the way, the title of this thread is: An advanced grammatical problem. Does that make any sense. Thanks in advance.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: An advanced grammatical problem

    Your title is not helpful. It should contain words from your actual question, such as "me or my".

    In the construction that you offered, both words are normally acceptable. The -ing word changes its status depending on the choice. With the possessive pronoun "my", it is a gerund (noun). With the objective pronoun "me", it is a participle (modifier).

    Mom does not like my drinking on weekends. Mom does not like me drinking on weekends.

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    #3

    Re: An advanced grammatical problem

    From what I have read previously, the first version (my drinking) is considered more formal and polite.
    I am not a teacher.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: An advanced grammatical problem

    The gerund form was the only acceptable version in the past, but this has changed. That said, it is probably still more formal.

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    #5

    Re: An advanced grammatical problem

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    This is how I understand it from my favorite books.

    1. Many native speakers would simply use "me" in such a sentence. They do not concern themselves with the "correct" word. They hear many people use "me," so they imitate what they hear.

    2. "Are you that upset over my borrowing a shirt?"

    a. The emphasis is on the borrowing. Therefore, many teachers would strongly recommend "my." (And so would I.)

    3. "Are you that upset over me borrowing a shirt?"

    a. The emphasis is on "me."

    i. That is to say, it is NOT the borrowing that concerns the person to whom you are speaking. It is the fact that you want to borrow a shirt. Perhaps the other person does not like you. Maybe the other person is very generous to everyone. But when s/he finds out that you (whom s/he dislikes) want to borrow a shirt, that person says something like "Are you kidding? You know that we do not like each other. What a nerve of you to ask a favor of me!"

    Here are two sentences from one of my favorite books:

    1, I do not approve of that man's coming with Mary.
    2. I do not approve of that man coming with Mary.

    #1 = it is the coming of the man with Mary that is not approved.
    #2 = disapproval of the man is indicated.



    Source: House and Harman, Descriptive English Grammar ( copyright 1931 and 1950).

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    #6

    Re: An advanced grammatical problem

    Quote Originally Posted by -hell_boy- View Post
    Are you that really that bent out of shape over my borrowing a shirt.
    May I ask a question here?
    What does it mean? I think the second "that" might be an adverb. Is the first "that" a typo?

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    #7

    Re: An advanced grammatical problem

    Yes. The first 'that' should be deleted.

    'Are you really that bent out of shape...?'

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    #8

    Re: An advanced grammatical problem

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    Many native speakers would simply use "me" in such a sentence. They do not concern themselves with the "correct" word. They hear many people use "me," so they imitate what they hear.
    Some would argue that the word 'correct' is not really relevant. Neither objective nor possessive form is demonstrably incorrect.
    The emphasis is on the borrowing. Therefore, many teachers would strongly recommend "my." (And so would I.)
    I don't think you will find many British teachers strongly recommending it today.

    People have been arguing over this since Jespersen and Fowler discussed it in the tracts of the Society for Pure English in the 1920s. Some people claim that only the possessive form is correct. Some claim a difference between the two such as that suggested by House and Harman. Most speakers of BrE simply use one (usually the objective form) and stick with it.
    House and Harman, Descriptive English Grammar ( copyright 1931 and 1950).
    Views on the style and grammar of the language of 65 and more years ago may be of historical interest, but I don't think they are relevant to the way we speak and write in 2015.

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    #9

    Re: An advanced grammatical problem

    Quote Originally Posted by tzfujimino View Post
    May I ask a question here?
    What does it mean? I think the second "that" might be an adverb. Is the first "that" a typo?
    yeah the first that should be deleted :)

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    #10

    Re: An advanced grammatical problem

    Quote Originally Posted by -hell_boy- View Post
    yeah the first that should be deleted :)
    Please try to use correct capitalisation and punctuation when you respond in this forum. Please also note the following, from the forum guidelines:

    You are welcome to reply to any of the questions posted in the Ask a Teacher Forum, even if you are not a teacher. In fact, your answers and contributions are most welcome. However, you will need to state clearly in your post that you are not a teacher.

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