Those Problematical Gerunds

What’s wrong with this sentence?

The boss didn’t like me talking back to him.

First, let me define what a gerund is.  In this sentence talking is a gerund, a noun formed from a verb by adding an ing.  Now when you want to modify a gerund, you must use the possessive case.  In the sentence above the speaker/writer used the accusative case me instead of the possessive case my (as in my bad–LOL).

This mistake is very, very common, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Oxford English Dictionary hasn’t already signed off on it as okay.  However, as that sentence is composed, what it actually says is this:

The boss didn’t like me [who, by the way, happened to be talking back to him/her].

If the boss were objecting only to the smoking, which he evidently was, you must use my here.

2 thoughts on “Those Problematical Gerunds

  1. Jen says:

    I still dont understand what in the hell a gerund is or even how to pronounce the word. can you give me some more expinations or examples…”a noun functioning as a verb”…? Confusing becasuse I thought that is why there is a difference one is an action and one is a subject now we have a verb/noun combo?
    HELP PLEASE

  2. grammarblogger says:

    Running, eating, walking–these are all verbs that are being used as nouns. For instance, “I enjoy walking as an exercise.” Walking is a noun serving as the object of the verb enjoy in this sentence.

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