I'd like to know your judgments on the following sentences. Are they well-formed?

  1. Mary suggested him buying a laptop.
  2. Mary suggested his buying a laptop.
  3. What did Mary suggest him buying?
  4. What did Mary suggest his buying?
  5. What did Mary suggest buying?

Next, consider the following:

  1. Mary suggested him going to Boston.
  2. Mary suggested his going to Boston.
  3. Where did Mary suggest him going?
  4. Where did Mary suggest his going?
  5. Where did Mary suggest going?

I am considering whether there is a transitive vs. intransitive asymmetry between 1 and 2 on the one hand and 8 and 9 on the other; and between 3 and 4 on the one hand and 10 and 11 on the other.

I'd appreciate your help.

  • 5 and 12 are good, the rest are not. You don't "suggest someone V-ing", you "suggest that someone V": What did Mary suggest that he buy? and Mary suggested that he buy a laptop. (When there is no third party involved, you can "suggest V-ing".) – Hellion Aug 21 '16 at 4:26
  • I don’t have a problem with 2 and 9 either. – Jim Aug 21 '16 at 4:30
  • @Jim Do you find 4 and 11 acceptable too? – Apollyon Aug 21 '16 at 8:52
  • @Apollyon - No. 4 and 11 sound wrong. – Jim Aug 21 '16 at 16:35
  • I suppose I could accept 11 by making it into 9. But it changes it from your intended meaning: “Mary suggested his going to Boston.” “Oh, where did Mary suggest his going?” “She was in Macy’s when she suggested his going. – Jim Aug 21 '16 at 16:40

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