Expert help needed: pronoun form following main verb before a gerund

Reply Mon 7 Jul, 2014 12:35 pm
What form does a pronoun take when it follows the main verb of a sentence and precedes a gerund as in the following examples?
Is it the object (me/you/him/her/it/us/them) or the possessive (my/your/his/her/its/our/their)?

1. "I don't recall [you/your] asking me to work on that project."
2. "You rather enjoy [him/his] cleaning the house for a change."
3. "She mentioned [me/my] helping for the full duration of the event."

The object of the recollection is the asking, of the enjoyment is the cleaning, and of the mention is the helping, but somehow, you/him/me sound more natural to this native English speaker's ear. I'll also concede that these could be rephrased with "when you asked", "when he cleans", and "that I help", respectively, but would like some clarity on this using the exact phrasing quoted. So would it be the object (you/him/me) or the possessive (your/his/my)?

Please post a link that details the grammar rule for my help or perhaps state some credential so I know that an uncited rule is coming from an authority on grammar. Even if you're not an authority on grammar, your input is appreciated! Thank you very much!
Reply Mon 7 Jul, 2014 01:08 pm

There Are No Postmodernists In a Foxhole

Geoff Nunberg
Commentary broadcast on "Fresh Air," August 20, 2002


0 Replies
Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2014 02:55 pm
It takes the possessive. You almost answered it yourself. The gerund is the object of the verb so you need a possessive pronoun to modify the gerund. Sometimes we get used to the sound of language when it is repeatedly spoken incorrectly and it sounds correct - but it's not.
Reply Sun 16 Aug, 2015 02:43 pm
It can take either.

"I don't recall you asking me to work on that project" Here "asking" is a verb.
"I don't recall your asking me to work on that project" Here "asking" is a noun.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 18 Sep, 2015 05:30 am
First off, we need to determine that the -ing word is used as a gerund, not as a present participle.

"I recall Bill asking, not you."

Here, if we take it to mean that Bill did the asking, whereas you did not, as far as I recall; then "asking" is a verb, the present participle of "to ask". Bill and you are the objects of the recollection (or non-recollection). "Asking" is a verb.
"I recall Bill asking, not yours." is wrong, in this sense.


"I recall Bill's questioning, not yours."
If this is intended to mean that both Bill and you questioned someone, perhaps asking different questions, then the questioning is the object of the recollection, and is a noun; specifically a gerund. Here the possessive should be used. Likewise it is correct to say

"I recall Bill's asking, not yours."
which means something different to
"I recall Bill asking, not you."
0 Replies
Reply Sat 23 Dec, 2017 09:46 am
Here is a difference that SOME people feel:

Raul: Do you mind MY asking you a question?
Mona: Of course, not. I love questions. Ask as many questions that you wish.
(The emphasis is on the "asking.")


Raul: Do you mind ME asking you a question?
Mona: Yes, I do. You know very well that I do not like you. So I do not want to answer any of your questions.

(The emphasis is on the particular person asking the question. NEVERTHELESS, most native speakers probably do NOT sense this difference, so most native speakers who use "me" PROBABLY are using it in the sense of "my.")
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Reply Sun 21 Jan, 2018 07:57 pm
It takes the possessive.

I know this is a rather old thread but these old canards must be put down wherever and whenever they are encountered.

Geoff Nunberg - Geoffrey Nunberg is an American linguist, researcher and an adjunct professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information.

"For example, that business about having to use the possessive "any member's leaving" instead of "any member leaving" is one of those mindless superstitions that have been passed on to generations of schoolchildren at the end of Sister Petra's ruler. As the linguist Geoff Pullum pointed out in a letter to the Chronicle, if you really believed the construction was incorrect, you'd have to take a red pencil to Shakespeare, Milton, Jane Austen, and most of the other great figures of English literature."
0 Replies
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2022 03:15 am
Traditionally, the possessive was used on the principle that the gerund served as a noun. That tradition has passed out of usage. Nowadays, we treat the gerund as a verb because it's more natural.
Reply Mon 12 Sep, 2022 04:35 am
Why don't you try helping people who actually want it, instead of replying to a question that's over eight years old?
0 Replies

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