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EDIT see end of question for updates:


The question came up if this is proper English:

Sorry, I felt the need for a disclaiming for some reason.

And I think it is but some others say it isn't. I gave a further example to back up my case that that is acceptable with:

"A disclaiming was made by the mayor"

And thus was born the question that you see here. I'm not saying it should be used all the time, but as an occasional usage, is this proper?

Yes yes, the appropriate word to use there would've been "disclaimer" not "disclaiming" but disregarding that?


My proof that this is acceptable is the countless number of books I've read where I've forgotten more than I remember that I've read, but I'm certain I've seen a literary device such as this used before and not heard a great deal of complaining on it.


So since I posted it was pointed out to me that this is most likely a gerund. If it is indeed a gerund, then is this a proper use of this particular gerund in this instance?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The examples you provided aren't using the word the right way. I do believe that "disclaiming" is a gerund, however you can't use it in the way you have it. As you said, the proper way to say it would be "A disclaimer was made". I think I see why you're confused. A gerund can be used as a noun, but the proper form would be this:

My disclaiming that the word can be used this way is explained above.

So, yes, you can use "disclaiming" as a noun, however, you can't make a disclaiming. You make a disclaimer.

From Merriam Webster

dis·claim verb \dis-ˈklām\

intransitive verb

1: to make a disclaimer

2 a obsolete : to disavow all part or share

2 b : to utter denial

[...] Examples of DISCLAIM

The prisoner disclaimed any part in the prank

Her spokesperson flatly disclaimed the marriage rumor circulating in the press

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Oy You! You're part of the discussing party in the first place. ... Well, at least you got to get in your dissenting opinion. Now let's see who else responds. –  jcolebrand Jan 4 '11 at 22:43
    
I swear I'm right on this!!! :-) –  Josh Jan 4 '11 at 22:44
    
You should've made the edit obviously after five minutes. Now you just look silly :p –  jcolebrand Jan 4 '11 at 22:47
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I look silly anyway :-) –  Josh Jan 4 '11 at 22:51
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A linguist would consider "disclaiming" a noun when it is used in e.g. "my disclaiming". But you are right that, just because something is a noun, doesn't mean it can be swapped in for another noun that has approximately the same meaning. "Disclaimer" is already the noun for the product of disclaiming, and so "disclaiming" only fits where "disclaimer" does not — maybe the very action itself. Also, just because something is a noun doesn't mean it is countable. "Disclaiming" is definitely not countable, so putting "a" in front of it doesn't work either. –  Kosmonaut Jan 4 '11 at 23:21
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[Edited] Yes, it is a gerund. But it sounds strange to me. Not because of the construction, which is possible with other verbs, but because there is a good alternative for this gerund, "disclaimer", which is very common, so that it is not a good idea to use this very unusual variant. This may be only a matter of style, but it is no less important. So don't. I do not believe in a fundamental difference between grammar and style, though others might disagree about that.

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Thanks for the answer. I agree that it's not a good idea to use this variant, but the question was "is it valid" not "should we use it all the time". Additionally someone pointed out that this "a disclaiming" is most likely a gerund, which led me to scouring to see if it was indeed a gerund and if that made it valid. Also led Josh to the same end. I should update the question. –  jcolebrand Jan 4 '11 at 23:06
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@Drachenstern: Perhaps I was the wrong person to answer, because I do not believe in the ultimate difference between validity and desirability. If something sounds strange and very undesirable to most people, is that really any different from its being grammatically wrong? It would indeed be a gerund. If you used a different verb, the first sentence would be fine, as in "I felt the need for a beating for some reason" - though you might say that "beating" has transformed into a noun. In any case, "a + gerund" is not very common, though possible. –  Cerberus Jan 4 '11 at 23:18
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