Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

While editing a writing sample of mine, my boyfriend made the following correction:

When we are more active online, our being solely distributed in the Greater Detroit area will be inconsequential.

When we are more active online, the fact that we are solely distributed in the Greater Detroit area will be inconsequential.

I've always been taught to avoid the "the fact that" construction. Is "our being" grammatically incorrect here?

share|improve this question
    
What was his rationale for making the change? –  Holland Wilson Jun 7 '13 at 20:30
3  
One should avoid the fact that unless one is vouching for a fact. But that's the situation here. Using a POSS-ing gerund like our being is not ungrammatical, but it is fancy, and it feels like a weak evasion, because it isn't as direct about the facts. –  John Lawler Jun 7 '13 at 20:34
    
@Janel: "Our being" is acceptable. In your future writing endeavors, you might think about using the gerund-possessive construction when it is clearly the subject of your sentence. Examples: "Our loud talking kept our roommate awake at night"; or "My winning the race really irked him"; or "Just tell me when my snoring interrupts your sleep"; and so on. –  rhetorician Jun 7 '13 at 22:37
    
I agree. Your "One should avoid "the fact that" is apt, as is the "exception" you mention. Lately, I've been hearing the wordy "on account of the fact that" a little too much, when a simple "because" would do the trick. –  rhetorician Jun 10 '13 at 1:21
add comment

1 Answer

Our being feels awkward and unprofessional, to me. This is a situation in which it would be fine to use the fact that, but you could also rearrange the sentence to avoid it and to be more specific. For example:

We are solely distributed in the Greater Detroit area, but that will no longer be a problem when we are more active online.

When we are more active online, it will no longer matter that we are distributed only in the Greater Detroit area.

Personally, I think your original construction using the fact that is fine, but rearranging a sentence to avoid using a phrase you don't like is always a good option!

share|improve this answer
    
Personally, I see nothing either 'awkward' nor 'unprofessional' in using 'our being'. It seems to me fairly elegant. I would, however, think hard before implying that being in the Detroit area is currently 'problematic' (which is implied by using 'will no longer be a problem'), depending who is the intended audience for this statement. –  TrevorD Jun 7 '13 at 23:37
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.