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I often use expression like these

  • I came to this place before him getting here (rather than using before he got here).
  • We were having a lot of fun before before her getting here (instead of before she got here).

I did not see a lot of results on the web for expressions like these, so I am wondering whether it is right or not?

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Both are grammatically "correct", though old-fashioned readers will insist you must use possessive his before the gerund (her is of course both possessive and objective); @RegDwighт's link will instruct you on the nicer points. However, the construction with the simple past is more natural. – StoneyB Dec 21 '12 at 16:11
up vote 3 down vote accepted

As @StoneyB says, both forms are "valid". But although I don't like admitting to being "old-fashioned", I would much prefer possessive his before the gerund. Not that it matters much, because like almost all native speakers, I would always use OP's second alternatives.

Since the same construction arises with many verbs, consider these Google Books results...

before he saw it 339,000 hits

before him seeing it 421 hits

before his seeing it 5 hits

So it's understandable OP doesn't see a lot of results on the web for expressions like these. They might be "technically valid", but that means nothing if people hardly ever use them.

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It seems that it is right in American English. I know from personal experiences of American people and American television programmes, that Americans use wordings such as "We were having a lot of fun before before her getting here".

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Then why does "before him/his getting here" have 6 Google hits, and "before he got here" have millions? This does not seem to be an expression that Americans typically use. – Peter Shor Dec 21 '12 at 16:32
Peter, I'm not saying the particular expression "before him/his getting here" is typical. I'm saying that saying something such as that, seems to be right in American English. That's why I wrote in my answer "wordings such as "We were having a lot of fun before before her getting here"". – Tristan Dec 21 '12 at 16:54
I would agree that we Americans use a lot of gerund phrases like this, but for some reason the particular expression "before her getting here" sounds strange to me in these sentences. – Peter Shor Dec 21 '12 at 17:25
@PeterShor You're right: you really do not say that. It is just before she got her. The before her getting here sounds quite bizarre in almost all conceivable circumstances. And it is not just this verb, either. You cannot use a gerund like this in any English flavor of my acquaintance. – tchrist Dec 21 '12 at 18:06
I suspect what is going on here is that Americans don't generally use -ing gerunds with before or after. With other prepositions like with, they're absolutely fine. – Peter Shor Dec 21 '12 at 18:19

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