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Question - GrammarGasm


carnageincminor
Aug. 23rd, 2009 01:19 pm Question

I'm in the middle of beta-reading someone's work and I've come across this:

"He won't let it show but I know that you leaving is eating him alive."

My question concerns the you leaving part. I know the current construction is very common in dialogue but I'm not sure as to how grammatically correct it is by more formal standards (and the speaker in this context is pretty formal). I would personally be inclined to use your leaving instead.

I've found this Wiki entry on the subject, which suggests that both constructions are sound, but I'd like to hear some other opinions. All comments are appreciated.

18 comments - Leave a commentPrevious Entry Share Next Entry

Comments:

From:saveyoursanity
Date:August 23rd, 2009 06:32 am (UTC)
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In a formal sense I'd probably use "your leaving".
From:hazelchaz
Date:August 23rd, 2009 07:17 am (UTC)

Constructs

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"you leaving" is valid, because what's eating him is the action -- "you leaving."

"your leaving" is also valid, because what's eating him is the leaving. It happens to be your leaving, but it could be anybody's leaving.

"not having you around" is eating him alive.
"you being absent" is eating him alive.
"your absence" is eating him alive.

All valid, I say.
From:carnageincminor
Date:August 23rd, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC)

Re: Constructs

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I agree with you that they're valid. I'm still wondering whether the "you leaving" form was maybe accepted as proper usage later on, in the same way we now accept ending a sentence with a preposition, while the "your leaving" form was more traditionally correct.
From:lazerbug
Date:August 23rd, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC)

Re: Constructs

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Probably. "Leaving" is a gerund, so "you leaving" (pronoun-gerund/noun) doesn't make sense in that light; "your leaving" (adjective-gerund/noun) does. But if you think of "leaving" as a present-participle verb, then "you" can work there. So it's probably a shift in the way we think about that pattern and whether we consider the -ing word a gerund or a verb.
From:rubicat
Date:August 23rd, 2009 12:39 pm (UTC)
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I would tend toward "your leaving" as well.

A comma should also come before "but," right?
From:graycie23
Date:August 23rd, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
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this is the seventh grade comma lesson we all learned, I know, but I'm chiming in to mention that I find myself leaving it out in short sentences when I want to convey the thought as one coherent piece instead of the compound sentence it really is.
From:rubicat
Date:August 23rd, 2009 01:04 pm (UTC)
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I was curious about that. I'm always interested in how people approach commas. :)
From:threnodyeris
Date:August 24th, 2009 09:00 am (UTC)
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Commas, eh? I tend to approach them from the left and make a few reassuring sounds, so as not to startle them.
From:carnageincminor
Date:August 23rd, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
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I do this as well. In the above example, though, I've put a comma after "but". The sentence doesn't sound like it flows properly without it.
From:lazerbug
Date:August 23rd, 2009 03:28 pm (UTC)
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After? You mean before "but," right?
From:carnageincminor
Date:August 24th, 2009 01:15 am (UTC)
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Yes. Sorry, brain freeze =)
From:lazerbug
Date:August 24th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
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No apologies necessary -- I figured you just mistyped. But for the sake of the piece you're editing, I thought I'd make sure. :)
From:pfy
Date:August 23rd, 2009 01:21 pm (UTC)
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"Your leaving" is correct, but the "you leaving" construction is very common (and arguably correct) too, especially in informal contexts. So I suppose the question is: which construction would the character use?
From:kairon13
Date:August 23rd, 2009 05:56 pm (UTC)
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'Your leaving' is correct. 'You leaving' makes 'you' the subject.
From:the_maenad
Date:August 23rd, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
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No it doesn't.
From:kairon13
Date:August 23rd, 2009 09:20 pm (UTC)
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To quote from the Wikipedia article referenced by the OP:
* The teacher's shouting startled the student. (Shouting is a gerund, and teacher's is a possessive pronoun. The shouting is the subject of the sentence.)
* The teacher shouting startled the student. (Shouting is a participle describing the teacher. This sentence means The teacher who was shouting startled the student. In this sentence, the subject is the teacher herself.)
From:linusrichard
Date:August 24th, 2009 12:12 am (UTC)
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"He won't let it show but I know that you bulldog is eating him alive."
or
"He won't let it show but I know that your bulldog is eating him alive."

Same if the noun is "leaving," although it's not as obvious because it's a gerund.
From:wanted_a_pony
Date:August 25th, 2009 05:28 am (UTC)
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I don't know for beans about grammar, but to my ears "your leaving" sounds better. I would bobble a bit reading the sentence either way it was phrased, tho'....