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Possible Duplicate:
When is a gerund supposed to be preceded by a possessive pronoun?
“Me being” versus “my being”
Usage of the gerund preceded by the possessive pronoun

I don't really know what to call it but basically there are two forms that I have seen across different texts:

My being here obviously upsets him.

Me being here obviously upsets him.


My taking interest in her research has had fantastic effects.

Me taking interest in her research has had fantastic effects.


Your coming here is quite disturbing

You coming here is quite disturbing


Please forgive my being aggressive.

Please forgive me being aggressive.

I think I must have seen the latter more often but in my head the former makes more sense.

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  • The word you want for what you call a 'verb-noun' is a Gerund Jun 9, 2012 at 11:47
  • See the first question this has been closed as a duplicate of for a comprehensive answer by one of our linguists.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jun 9, 2012 at 18:03

2 Answers 2

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If you precede the -ing form of the verb with a possessive determiner such as my, you emphasise the action. If you precede it with a personal pronoun such as me, you emphasise the person who is performing the action. I have posted about it on my former blog. For something more authoritative, you can read the British linguist David Crystal on the subject.

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    Trust David Crystal. He knows what he's talking about. Jun 9, 2012 at 16:22
  • Oh I see, so really you can use both but they have slightly different meanings?
    – Cameron
    Jun 9, 2012 at 17:34
  • N.B. There is a slight problem with the argument (as exposed by Crystal) that "my" 'highlights the noun phrase', though: the gerund would still be modified by an adverb, not an adjective. Jun 9, 2012 at 19:39
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The former 'makes more sense' according to a piece of made-up logic that isn't the same logic by which the language operates. It has become a written convention used by people who subscribe to that logic. So if you write "My being here..." instead of "Me being here...", you will be following an arbitrary convention that lots of people follow and few people will accuse you of using an "incorrect" form.

But remember: the language doesn't owe you any guarantee of 'making sense' by some logic that you've made up. The reason that you hear the latter forms more often is probably because according to the system by which the actual language operates, those are the natural forms. There's nothing necessarily wrong in using natural language rather than following an arbitrary convention based on fallacy.

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  • Ah that makes sense, I found this quite interesting too: books.google.com/ngrams/… You can see how "me" is slowly increasing it's frequency over "my".
    – Cameron
    Jun 9, 2012 at 17:32

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