I have been trying to untangle whether, in the following sentence, the apostrophe -s is necessary

"He complains about his feet ('s) hurting."

Apologies if the title isn't accurate or precise. I'm having trouble wording my concern exactly.

The "hurting" is not an action belonging to the feet, but is a state of being of the feet (like "smelling"). I have already introduced one possessive because the feet belong to him, but is what he "has" not the feet but the "feet hurting" which would obviate the need for a second possessive?

A parallel sentence MIGHT be "He complains about his soup's tasting funny." But there, I add in "funny" and I don't know if that (adjective?) changes anything.

  • If you add ‘gerund’ to your title, you might find quite a few questions on the topic. Regardless of that, if the (probably satisfactory) sentence you give sounds a bit odd or awkward to you, as it does to me, trust your judgement and find another way. For example, “he complained of a pain in his foot” is a better alternative in every way. Why use a so-called ‘gerund’ if you don’t have to? – Tuffy Jan 30 at 12:16
  • "He complained about his feet hurting" is entirely grammatical in my (British English) dialect. – Francis Davey Jan 30 at 18:18

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