I've been hearing this sentence structure for a while, so i wanted to learn about it but couldn't find specific information on the internet since i didn't know how this structure was named in English grammar.

For example there are lots of people that you don't like in a party and you are unhappy about this. It's possible to say:

I'm unhappy about their presence.

I'm unhappy that they are here.

But you can also say:

I'm unhappy about them being here.

So it goes like: [main clause + (about) + object + -ing form]

Is there a specific name which has been given to this structure? And what are the properties of this structure in general?

  • 4
    It's called a Gerund clause, and the subject of the clause can be (a) absent but understood (I'm unhappy about going alone); (b) absent but indefinite (Visiting relatives is always difficult); (c) in the possessive form (I'm unhappy about his going alone); or (d) in the objective form (I'm unhappy about him going alone). The verb of the clause is an -ing form of the verb; there is no tense. Gerunds are always subordinate clauses; they can't be full sentences. May 11 '15 at 23:32
  • Thank you so much, that really helped! But what is the difference between saying "I'm unhappy about his/him going alone" ? When would it be appropriate to use "his" and when to use "him" ?
    – Insomnia
    May 12 '15 at 1:28
  • No difference. Normally if there are several ways to say something, it's up to the speaker to choose. There's rarely a meaning difference, and only occasionally a pragmatic difference. Though textbook writers make money by making you believe there's a rule for everything. That's nonsense. May 12 '15 at 2:06

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