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Could someone please explain whether it should be "me presenting a final thesis" or "my presenting a final thesis". I've always struggled to understand when to use me and where to use my Could someone please explain the grammatical difference between the two words in this context? Thanks!

My education culminated with my presenting a final thesis.

  • Try changing me/my to John/John’s ... – Jim Jan 9 '17 at 5:55
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In this example, "presenting" is a gerund, that is, a verb form ending with -ing and acting as a noun. The gerund phrase "[me/my] presenting a final thesis" also acts as a noun, as you can see by replacing it with other noun phrases:

  • My education culminated with disaster.
  • My education culminated with a graduation ceremony.
  • My education culminated with my favorite tune, "Pomp and Circumstance."

So the strict rule, as explained in this blog post, is that you should use the possessive form to indicate who's performing the action. It's your action.

This doesn't only apply to pronouns. If someone else was giving the presentation, you might say:

  • My education culminated with the valedictorian's presenting a final thesis.

However, as that post also points out, this rule isn't always followed; in common usage, the possessive is considered optional after a preposition. Since you have a preposition here, both forms are acceptable:

  • My education culminated with me presenting a final thesis.
  • My education culminated with my presenting a final thesis.

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