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Which of the following sentences is grammatically correct?

  1. I being not at home, my friend left a message.

  2. Me being not at home, my friend left a message.

  3. My being not at home, my friend left a message.

I think that the third sentence can be easily ruled out since My being not at home would be a gerund, and we need a participle here.

I have seen sentences like Him being dead, there was no one remaining to challenge her. and I think they are grammatically correct. Following this trend of using the objective case, I believe that the second sentence would be the correct one, but my teacher says that it should be the first one (probably because the second one does have an informal feel to it).

So, which one of them is the correct one, and why?

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    I would say all the three versions use the nominative absolute. I also think that your teacher is right— nominative case is to be preferred over the accusative case both in gerundial and participial clauses. Jun 9 at 5:51
  • @user405662 I didn't know anything about nominative absolutes. I read a little about them and it indeed seems to me now that sentence #1 is correct; but that would mean that Him being dead, there was no one to challenge her. is incorrect, although I am sure I have seen sentences like that written even in books.
    – Arjun
    Jun 9 at 6:29
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    As @BillJ has pointed out in his answer in such cases using the genitive case is incorrect; the other two cases are acceptable (with nominative case preferred over the accusative case.) Jun 9 at 6:55
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    @user405662 Got it. Thank you very much for your help!
    – Arjun
    Jun 9 at 7:15
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    There are other requirements than grammaticality. Using even the two grammatical variants here would mark a person as being ... let's say, odd. 'John being dead, there was no one remaining to challenge her.' works (being in a literary style). Jun 9 at 11:47
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[1] [I being not at home], my friend left a message.

[2] [Me being not at home], my friend left a message.

[3] * [My being not at home], my friend left a message.

The bracketed expressions are gerund-participial clauses in adjunct function.

In such constructions, genitive subjects are not permitted at all: the choice is between nominative [2] and accusative [1], with [3] being ungrammatical.

Incidentally, it would be more natural to put the negative marker "not" before the verb rather than after it: "I/me not being at home".

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  • Thanks Bill for your answer! If I understood it correctly, you are implying that both [1] and [2] are grammatically correct and essentially equivalent. Would you say the same if, say, it were she and her instead of I and me respectively?
    – Arjun
    Jun 9 at 6:56
  • Accusative is formal or informal? @BillJ Jun 9 at 7:32
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    @Arjun Yes: any nominative or accusative case personal pronoun is OK. Note, though, that the accusative is markedly informal and somewhat unlikely: the construction is relatively formal, so the accusative tends to sound out of place here.
    – BillJ
    Jun 9 at 7:58
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Grammatically both 1 and 2 are correct. The difference is not a matter of grammar but of style. It's just that 1 is more formal while 2 is less formal.

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  • Thanks for your help! Could you cite some sources so that I can read more about this. Also, @user405662 's comment on my question suggests that only nominative case would be grammatically appropriate here. What would you say about that?
    – Arjun
    Jun 9 at 6:32

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