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"We had a good time despite its raining."

Why does the genitive pronoun not work here, yet in the majority of examples we have a choice between accusative and genitive pronouns:-

We had a good time despite him being ill. OK

We had a good time despite his being ill. OK

We had a good time despite them arguing. OK

We had a good time despite their arguing. OK

We had a good time despite it raining. OK

We had a good time despite its raining. NOT OK.

And what exactly is "it"?

Also am I correct in thinking that their arguing is a noun phrase, whereas them arguing is a non-finite subordinate clause? And if that is true then with a sentence like "We had a good time despite arguing" what is despite arguing? Is it an NP or a non-finite clause? Or is it a Schroedinger's cat?

  • You can't use "it's" (which you by the way misspelled), i.e. present tense in conjunction with "had" because this is something that already occured. Correct way of saying your sentence would be: "We had a good time despite it having been raining." Or even better, skip "raining" and just mention that the weather was bad: "We had a good time despite the awful weather." – silkfire Sep 9 '14 at 8:52
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    @silkfire - are you sure OP misspelled its? Please reread the context and OP's examples. – anongoodnurse Sep 9 '14 at 8:57
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    The dummy it does not have a possessive form. That is sort of the whole point. It is a dummy placeholder. It is not a thing, and cannot possess. What does “it” refer to in “it's raining”? – RegDwigнt Sep 9 '14 at 15:54
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    @Mari-LouA That kind of linking's dangerous round here because someone'll think it''s a duplicate and try and close it ;-) – Araucaria Sep 12 '14 at 16:59
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    @Mari-LouA I know that, but I thought I'd better make sure anyone visiting did too! :) – Araucaria Sep 12 '14 at 17:14
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Despite as used in these sentences is a preposition

Without being affected by; in spite of

[Oxford Dictionaries Online]

The words that follow despite are objects of the preposition

  1. We had a good time despite him being ill. [him pronoun object, being ill participle modifier of him]
  2. We had a good time despite his being ill. [being ill gerund object, his possessive of being ill]
  3. We had a good time despite them arguing. [same as 1.]
  4. We had a good time despite their arguing. [same as 2.]
  5. We had a good time despite it raining. [implied object and defining clause ...despite the fact that it was raining]
  6. We had a good time despite its raining. NOT OK.

The pronoun it in the above phrases is effectively an indefinite placeholder to describe a state of affairs

Used in the normal subject position in statements about time, distance, or weather

[Oxford Dictionaries Online]

While other pronouns in the examples (him, them) are actual entities to which the writer is referring, there is no real it in the raining examples. And there is no it to possess the raining.

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    Contrast The dog gave him a good bite despite its training. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 9 '14 at 13:28

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