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I teach presentation to companies, and a common sentence at the end of a presentation (for my ESL students) is "Thank you for your listening," or "Thank you for your coming," or "Thank you for your attending."

I always correct this and tell the students to omit "your." If I don't and am working with a colleague (from Canada, South Africa, Australia, etc.) they will always catch this and correct it...none of us has ever disagreed with each other about this. We have disagreed as to why you can't say this.

So my question is, "why can't you say ...your + gerund?"

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  • You can say "your + gerund" in general (it is grammatical, as in "Your leaving the room when I speak annoys me") but it's not idiomatic in this context (saying "thank you for verb-ing"). I'm not sure why. – herisson Sep 3 '15 at 5:27
  • @sumelic The answer given by my colleagues when asked "why not?" Is usually "because you can't" which is about as satisfying as showing a thirsty person a picture of a glass of water. – michael_timofeev Sep 3 '15 at 6:37
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    I see this in Japanese English ALL THE TIME. Nip it in the bud. I used to hesitate and second-guess myself too. No more. Doesn't sound right? Then it is not. If you need a reason, then the you in "thank you" already includes the idea that the "coming" or "attending" is by the "you," so it is redundant. – curious-proofreader Sep 3 '15 at 7:00
  • (1) 'Gerund' has different and conflicting definitions. (2) I'd say that there is more of a verbal flavour to the ing-form in 'Thank you for listening' than in 'Listening is a passive skill'. This would match the non-use of a possessive pronoun after 'Thank you for'. (3) 'Thank you for your kindness' etc shows that this argument is far from cast-iron. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 3 '15 at 11:23
  • @EdwinAshworth so you are saying that grammatically, there is nothing wrong with it, it's just that we currently don't accept it as standard English? – michael_timofeev Sep 3 '15 at 16:14
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"Thank you for your coming" sounds too much like thanking the Messiah for the Second Coming.

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