Magazine November 29, 2021, Issue

Defusing Your Participles

(Pavel Abramov/Getty Images)

Should you say I appreciate your coming or I appreciate you coming? That’s the question. Literary folks tend to want your; everybody else tends to want you.

Noun clauses with the verb in the –ing form sometimes have the subject in the possessive case (as in My going home made her sad, or Shareholders worried about the company’s reorganizing) and sometimes don’t (as in Me going home made her sad, or Shareholders worried about the company reorganizing). In his famous 1926 book A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, H. W. Fowler suggested that the latter, without a possessive, was “rapidly corrupting

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Bryan A. Garner — Mr. Garner is the author of The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation, Garner’s Modern English Usage, and The HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.

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