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I think I understand the possessive + gerund construct but in some cases I'm still finding it difficult to get it sound right in my head. I think this mostly has to do with the subject's being a noun/name and not a pronoun (the bold part is an example of this).

So, are these correct?

  • The notion of a body's having a constant temperature...
  • Due to my father's being a Swiss citizen...

Or should I rather use these, which, right now, sound better to me?

  • The notion of a body having a constant temperature...
  • Due to my father being a Swiss citizen...

But these I can more easily accept (though still awkward, maybe they are just not good examples):

  • The notion of my having a constant temperature...
  • Due to his being a Swiss citizen...

ETA: In case it's not clear, I'm not a native English speaker, so my feelings about what sounds good or not are not to be taken seriously ;)

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    The choice between the ACC-ing complementizer (me having a constant temperature) and the POSS-ing complementizer (my having a constant temperature) is entirely optional and at the pleasure of the speaker. There is no grammatical difference between them -- as long as you don't use I, you can use any other first person pronoun -- and there is no meaning difference. Different people have different speech habits; follow your own. Oh, and there's no difference between pronoun and noun, either; again, different people will have different frequencies of use. – John Lawler Dec 12 '18 at 15:37
  • One thing you should consider when choosing which to use is that the possessive alternative can sound like plural, and therefore be confusing, i.e. "...the book's being a source of information.", could be audibly confused with "...the books being a source of information." In writing it makes no difference in that regard, this is only something to consider in speech. – A. Kvåle May 11 at 21:29
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    the traditional stance is that you must have body's and father's – Toothrot May 11 at 22:42
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Gerunds are verbals acting as nouns to describe a state of being and doing, the concepts the root verbs go to mean. So like nouns they can have possessive determiners— a noun in possessive case (John's) or possessive adjectives (your/his). However, it's used in formal English and lends beauty to the written piece. In informal situations and common parlance, we use objective forms (nouns without apostrophe's or objective personal pronouns like ' him ' , ' us ' etc. ) So first two sets of alternatives are equally correct.

In the last set of examples the same thing is told the other way round and equally hold water.

However gerunds are look-alikes of participle adjectives. We must be on our guards so that the intended meaning doesn't gather radical overhaul. Consider, for example the following sentence.

★ Whitaker did not like the woman's ( woman ) standing in front of him at the parade.

With " 's ", it is a particular instance of an identified woman ( gerundial use ) where as without " 's " it's a generalisation where the act itself is not liked by Whitaker (participal use ).

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    Wouldn't (couldn't) the sentence "... did not like the woman standing ..." be understood as he didn't like that particular woman, i.e., "standing" as an adjective? – Jellby Dec 16 '18 at 8:09
  • It is an adjective. The same is mentioned when we say it's a participle; gerund is interested in the deed, participle the doer. Consider 'the' there as signifying all women. – Barid Baran Acharya Dec 17 '18 at 18:45
  • I agree with @Jellby. The sentence about Whitaker needs to possessive form "woman's" because the version with the objective form is ambiguous, and the more likely of its two meanings is not the intended one. – Andreas Blass May 12 at 1:49
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I honestly toyed with a couple of ideas, and I have no idea how the two proposed phrases differ in meaning. They are both grammatically correct, and they both convey a nearly identical meaning. If there's a distinction, it's too subtle for me to notice. It's probably a complicated and altogether irrelevant linguistic curiosity rather than a concrete and applicable grammatical rule.

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In a comment, John Lawler wrote:

The choice between the ACC-ing complementizer (me having a constant temperature) and the POSS-ing complementizer (my having a constant temperature) is entirely optional and at the pleasure of the speaker. There is no grammatical difference between them -- as long as you don't use I, you can use any other first person pronoun -- and there is no meaning difference. Different people have different speech habits; follow your own. Oh, and there's no difference between pronoun and noun, either; again, different people will have different frequencies of use.

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