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When is a gerund supposed to be preceded by a possessive pronoun?

I am a German mathematician. In some research papers I find grammatical constructions like the one in the title, e.g.:

"Because of our ignoring the boundary conditions, the following analysis is easier."

I wonder whether this is grammatically and stylistically correct English. I know there are some original constructs in "mathematical English", so if it is not standard grammar, it might very well be an import from another language.

Can you help me?

  • It's perfectly standard grammar - just a bit formal (maybe even stilted in some contexts). In OP's specific context, it's normal phrasing. Aug 10, 2012 at 2:34
  • 1
    No, sth isn’t correct English; it doesn’t mean anything at all. Did you intend to use an actual English word there, or is it meant to be some mathematical expression, like the Sᵗʰ element?
    – tchrist
    Aug 10, 2012 at 2:37
  • 1
    "sth." is obviously an abb. for "something." Aug 10, 2012 at 2:41

1 Answer 1


You yourself use a similar phrase in your question:

"...if it is not standard grammar, it might very well be an import from another language."

This sentence could just as easily have been phrased with the condition following the result:

"...it might very well be an import from another language if it is not standard grammar."

It all depends on whether you want to place the emphasis on the condition or the result. In more formal writing, and especially in scholarly articles, it is common to use phrases that follow a path of logical reasoning.

"If this, then this", "Because of this, then this"

Note: This is merely conjecture, but I suppose that this format is not as common in colloquial speech because the logical reasoning is not as important as the conclusion.

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