You not loving me is my nightmare.

Is this sentence correct? If not, would you please tell me the correct form?


[You / your not loving me] is my nightmare.

Both forms of the personal pronoun are perfectly acceptable, though the genitive (possessive) form "your" is considered slightly more formal by some speakers.

Other than that, there is no semantic difference.

Note that "not loving me" is a verb phrase serving as predicate of the bracketed subject clause.

  • Thank you so much – Shorecoral Oct 14 '19 at 10:13
  • Nitpick: "your" is a possessive not an accusative. – Stuart F Oct 14 '19 at 11:22
  • @Stuart F Yikes! Corrected now. Thank you for spotting my slip. – BillJ Oct 14 '19 at 11:30

Learners in countries where English is 2nd language, use gerunds when they often don't get the proper noun form of a verb. They use running in place of race; loving instead of love (where 'love' functions as a noun); laughing in lieu of laughter. Sometimes it ends up being awkward when the noun form of 'give'becomes giving or gift, because both are different when used. Gradually these learners get used to the proper noun form; I also used to do it in the beginning.

Now, coming to the use of 'ing' form in such examples as:

You raising a question makes no difference, or Your raising a question makes no difference, the difficulty is defining the function of 'you' in the first sentence. In the second sentence 'your' functions as possessive adjective.

  • I wouldn't go along with your last sentence. "Your" is not a genitive (possessive) adjective, but a genitive pronoun functioning as subject of the clause "your not loving me". (Note that even in, say, "I like your house", "your" is a genitive determiner, not an adjective. – BillJ Oct 14 '19 at 13:46

Strictly, since a gerund functions as a noun, the noun or pronoun should be in the possessive case giving "Your not loving me is my nightmare." but "You not loving me" is what you are most likely to hear in ideomatic speech.

The reason for using the possessive is that we don't use the nominative case with true nouns which would give sentences like "You coat is red", "John house is small", "Me car is a Volvo".

Actually there are non-standard English dialects where the posessive form of the first person singular is 'me' instead of 'my' but when users of those dialects say "me car" or "me 'ouse" (the possessive 'me' is usually accompanied by dropped 'h's) they are using 'me' as a possessive.

  • Thank you so much – Shorecoral Oct 14 '19 at 10:13
  • I don't buy that "should be in the possessive case" line. From an earlier question: Gerund clauses have two complementizers: the normal Acc-ing complementizer (without him telling me), and the Poss-ing complementizer (without his telling me). Both are correct, both are common, but Acc-ing is somewhat more common in practice. – FumbleFingers Oct 14 '19 at 12:07
  • There is no complement in "You / your not loving me is my nightmare", so there can hardly be a complementizer! "You / your" is the subject and "not being there" is the predicate verb phrase. – BillJ Oct 15 '19 at 15:43

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