My question is - which of the two phrases above sound better/worse?

  • His dishonesty


  • His being dishonest

Actually, the question is not only about this particular noun/adjective pair, but extends to other verbs and nouns. Like in the following:

  • Her selfishness VS her being selfish
  • Their irresponsibility VS their being irresponsible

Is there any difference in meaning between "his + noun" and "his being + adjective" ?

1 Answer 1


English is a context-dependent language. Since you have provided none we could generalise and say:

'his dishonesty' refers to a trait.

'his being dishonest' refers to a single instance.

Context could override the above generalisation.

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