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Is it grammatically correct to write "forgive my being late to this discussion" as an alternative to "sorry that I'm late to this discussion"?

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Related: Gerund preceded by possessive pronoun (e.g. “He resents your being more popular than he is”), complete with an excellent answer and a link to Language Log. –  RegDwigнt Jul 12 '11 at 10:32
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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Your example

Forgive my being late ...

is a typical example of a grammatical feature known as a gerund:

gerund |ˈjerənd| noun Grammar
a form that is derived from a verb but that functions as a noun, in English ending in -ing, e.g., asking in do you mind my asking you?. [NOAD]

So, yes, that is a perfectly grammatical expression.

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I'd change to to for, but otherwise it seems quite correct to me.

Forgive my being late for this discussion

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Any of the following should be acceptable:
- Forgive my being late
- Forgive me for being late
- Forgive my late arrival

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Probably most speakers wouldn't find your first version is ungrammatical as such, but it's certainly not the most common way of expressing what you want to say. If have a look, for example, at ngram data for "forgive my being" vs "forgive me for being", you'll see that the latter version is several times more common.

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