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Which one of the following is correct/preferred?

This process is devised in such a way that it works automatically while always revealing to the user the fact of it/its being intact.

Both "the fact of it being ..." and "the fact of its being ..." can be frequently found on the web. But perhaps one should be correct/preferred.

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    I use both but am unsure.
    – iBug
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 9:57

1 Answer 1

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It depends on how these words are being used.

If you say "Its being..." then being is a gerund and its is the possessive case. its and the words that follow it form a noun:

I was happy about its being a well established rule.

It sounds a little strange with its, but if I gave another example using another possessive pronoun, his then:

I was happy about his being accepted.

If you say "It being", then being is then a participle describing it:

I was happy about it being a well established rule.

And with another example:

I was happy about him being accepted.

There is a subtle difference difference in focus when using one or the other. I can best show what I mean with this example:

We were amazed by his singing.

We were amazed by him singing.

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  • Consider: "I wasn't happy about him calling me".
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 13:58
  • @tchrist. I don't see anything significantly different about that example "I wasn't happy about him, calling me", is like saying "I wasn't happy about that dirty dog, making footprints on my clean kitchen floor."
    – Jason210
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 16:24
  • The difference is that calling is the head of the non-finite verb phrase that is the object of the preposition and him is that verb phrase's objective-case subject (only finite verbs have nominative subjects). See Professor Lawler’s answers: english.stackexchange.com/a/156882 english.stackexchange.com/a/94272 english.stackexchange.com/a/275149
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 16:28

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