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The intended use of the sentence is for a scenario where a guy gives a positive indication (with facial expressions) to an employee before leaving the presentation room.

Is "give a gesture" grammatically correct? Does the sentence portray a positive action?

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It's correct grammar, but used that way, it sounds like it was a rude gesture. Maybe mentino the specific gesture "He gave her a thumbs up...' or 'He flipped her the bird...' or 'A wink and a nod as he left the room left her feeling a little queasy' –  Mitch Jun 25 '12 at 13:21
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Please can you pin point what you find ungrammatical about the sentence? Searching for errors is off topic, as explained in the faq –  Matt Эллен Jun 25 '12 at 13:24
    
@MattЭллен - I was not sure about "gave a gesture" phrase. So, I was asking for suggestions for better word choice. –  Jbean Jun 25 '12 at 13:33
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Probably if it is a facial expression, I would not use the term "gesture". –  GEdgar Jun 25 '12 at 14:36
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A gesture is something you do with your hands or arms; it looks like you are trying to use it for facial expressions—that's not what gesture means. –  Peter Shor Jun 25 '12 at 17:52
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5 Answers

The sentence in question

He gave her a gesture while leaving the room.

is certainly grammatical.

The phrase give a gesture is not idiomatic, however, and not a spectacularly helpful description, since it doesn't include the communicative intent of the gesture. As other comments have made clear, people use gestures for all kinds of purposes, and if this is sposta be a description, it's not doing the job.

This is very much like saying

He said a sentence to her while leaving the room.

The reader's reaction to this sentence is likely to be something like

"OK, and ...?"

because it's the meaning of the sentence, or the gesture, that's likely to be important to the reader, not the physical description of the event.

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Agreed. One often sees 'give' in regards to specific gestures: "He gave her a nod" or "She gave a salute" but to just give "a gesture" sounds incomplete and downright strange. –  Lynn Jun 25 '12 at 18:26
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The idiomatic form is made a gesture to her (or more rarely, made her a gesture) and not gave her a gesture. You could use gave her a signal or gave her a sign.

To me, gave her a gesture sounds like a euphemism for gave her the finger. If you want to convey a positive meaning, you should use made.

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'made a gesture' is better but still sounds like...well, how many positive gestures are there? –  Mitch Jun 25 '12 at 20:22
    
At least two ... there's the thumbs up, and the circle with the thumb and index finger. And there aren't that many more negative gestures, but you're right--made a gesture could easily be negative. You could say made her a gesture of approval if you don't want to be more specific. –  Peter Shor Jun 25 '12 at 20:31
    
At least in my understanding of what OP is trying to say - that the "gesture" conveys some sort of information or communication - gave her a signal is the best choice. –  alcas Jun 25 '12 at 22:36
    
OK. but to me still feels negative when unspecified. Whatever the gesture is, one would say "gave her two thumbs up" or "ok'd her" rather than the generic gesture; like someone else mentioned, its as informative as "He spoke to her as he left the room."...OK well, what was it that he said? –  Mitch Jun 25 '12 at 23:53
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I would say He gestured to her as he left the room if you don't want to specify exactly what it was that he did; remember that a thumbs-up and a middle finger are both gestures, and (in American usage, anyway) have almost exactly opposite meanings - so you are leaving things quite open to the reader's interpretation.

If you want to unambiguously state that he was giving a positive signal to her - and that it was by means of a facial expression - I think I would go with:

He winked at her as he left the room.

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As said its a vague word that implies little other than some sort of non-verbal commincation was passed - you could add an adverb before it, or description after it, or replace it entirely with a more descriptive term.

He gave her a non-commital gesture

or

He gave her a rude gestrue...

or

he gave her a gesture to follow him...

or

He blew her a kiss...

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It is grammatically sound, but sentences need to have a sound meaning too.

Exactly who was leaving the room?

Gesture is very vague too, was it a rude gesture, a flirtatious signal, or a polite acknowledgement. Without clarification, you might have meant anything.

If you wanted ambiguity, use words not typically associated with a particular coloring phrase. "A rude gesture" has been used as a euphemism so many times that gesture on it's own now colors the language toward rudeness.

He motioned to her as (he / she) left the room.

Makes just as much sense, (provided you pick one he or she) but doesn't use an awkward word that colors the sentence with possible rudeness.

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