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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Don't mind him closing the door v.s. Don't mind his closing the door

    Hi, everyone.

    This question arose when I was answering another question raised on a local forum. The guy posted a snapshot of a grammar book, presumably written by a Chinese person. The book claims:

    It is correct to say They caught him cheating on the exam. And it's incorrect to say They caught his cheating on the exam.
    The guy wanted to know the reason behind it. Well, assuming the book is correct on this one, I thought it was easy. According to my Longman dictionary, catch means:

    2. find/stop sb [T]

    3. see sb doing sth
    Catch, in this sense(3) and a similar sense(2), takes a person, not an action. Then I thought to myself, 'What will happen if we use a verb that could take a person or an action?' Is there a material, though subtle, difference between don't mind him closing the door and don't mind his closing door? If so, what might be the difference?

    Here is my take. In most cases, the two effectively mean the same thing. But there are situations where one is a better option than the other.

    Don't mind him closing the door is of the structure noun/pronoun + v-ing/v-ed. Here, the focus is on the person. For example, I work in the same office with John Smith ad John Doe. Ms. Doe always closes the door forcefully, which annoys me a lot. On the other hand, Mr. Smith does everything gently and oftentimes I don't even notice him leaving the office. When telling a friend what it's like to work in my office, it's more appropriate to say, 'I don't mind him closing the door.'

    Don't mind his closing the door is similar to the structure adj + noun. Here, the focus is on the action. If I want to express, say, the idea that I wouldn't trust him to do other things as he's so incompetent, I should opt for I don't mind his closing the door.

    I'd like to hear your opinions.

    Richard

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Don't mind him closing the door v.s. Don't mind his closing the door

    I don't mind him closing the door.

    I don't mind it that he closes the door.
    Not a professional teacher

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Don't mind him closing the door v.s. Don't mind his closing the door

    "I don't mind his closing the door" doesn't work for me. Instead, try:

    The way he closes the door doesn't bother me.
    Last edited by Tarheel; 09-Dec-2019 at 20:23. Reason: Spelling
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  4. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Don't mind him closing the door v.s. Don't mind his closing the door

    It may work in a different context: "I don't mind his closing the door because it is noisy outside."
    I am not a teacher.

  5. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Don't mind him closing the door v.s. Don't mind his closing the door

    Quote Originally Posted by cubezero2 View Post
    If I want to express, say, the idea that I wouldn't trust him to do other things as he's so incompetent, I should opt for I don't mind his closing the door.
    What does his incompetence have to do with his closing the door gently?
    I am not a teacher.

  6. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Don't mind him closing the door v.s. Don't mind his closing the door

    My opinion is that a post that extensively explains grammar to me is time-wasting. Instead, it would be better to ask the question without writing an essay.

    Not a professional teacher

  7. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Don't mind him closing the door v.s. Don't mind his closing the door

    Are you trying to say that closing the door is the most complicated thing you would trust him to do? I can't see the relevance of his incompetence otherwise.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  8. Newbie
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    #8

    Re: Don't mind him closing the door v.s. Don't mind his closing the door

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Wai View Post
    What does his incompetence have to do with his closing the door gently?
    It's got nothing to do with that. I thought it was clear that I provided two separate scenarios. Unfortunately, it was a failed attempt.

  9. Newbie
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    #9

    Re: Don't mind him closing the door v.s. Don't mind his closing the door

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    My opinion is that a post that extensively explains grammar to me is time-wasting. Instead, it would be better to ask the question without writing an essay.

    I agree with you, Tarheel. And I don't normally write lenghty posts talking about grammar, except when I feel I have to resort to the opinions of the good people here and make things clear. I actually thought I'd written a 'concise' question. And I definitely didn't make things clear, as can be seen in Matthew's reply.

    I can see in post #2 and #3, the two sentences made you think of different things. Is there a rule clearly defining the difference between the two structures? Like active present participles v.s. passive past participles. That's the question that occurred to me immediately after I answered that person's question.

  10. Newbie
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    #10

    Re: Don't mind him closing the door v.s. Don't mind his closing the door

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Are you trying to say that closing the door is the most complicated thing you would trust him to do? I can't see the relevance of his incompetence otherwise.
    Yes, that's what I was trying to say. It's a very unnatural example. But it was the only example I could think of, when I wanted to say in his closing the door the focus is on the action rather than the person doing the action.

    Matthew proposed a much better context. I think I should change the question to whether I don't mind his closing the door is more appropriate in the following example.

    'I don't mind his closing the door because it's noisy outside. But I do mind his locking the door. Why did he do that?'

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