1. He did not appreciate the men taking charge of the project. vs.
  2. He did not appreciate the men's taking charge of the project. If sentence 2 is technically correct it seems awfully silly and affected.
  • Neither one is silly or affected, and both are grammatical. Gerund clauses can have subjects in any non-nominative case. In English, that's objective (him, John, the men) or possessive (his, John's, the men's). He is right out, because it's nominative. What you're intuiting is that the genitive form falutes a bit higher than the objective; this is because it requires a bit more effort to form the possessive than it does to use the default objective. Some people think this is important, and lends ton to the sentence; others don't. Jul 9, 2014 at 2:29
  • What are you asking? Both of your sentences are fine. Jul 9, 2014 at 5:49

1 Answer 1


Though I would likely select example one, it dependes on your emphasis. This is often called topicalization. The second example using the possive shifts some of the emphasis of the noun phrase onto the "men (who) were taking charge" whereas the first example focuses more on the action of "men taking change". The reason for this shift is that a possessive word creates a more complex underlying syntactic structure which "lifts" the possessive into a controlling postion over the remainder of the NP. I think it's the lack of complexity that makes the first eample easier to read. But the topicalization is a legitimate tool in your writing arsenal if you need it.

You can explore the effects of the possive by doing substitution testing where you change the progressive tense phrasal verb "taking charge" and changing it to another verb. In some cases the exchange may be straight forward, but with some verbs you discover that the verb will force a change in structure. These strucural changes are often what creates the emphasis change.

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