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.Â In this sentence talking is a gerund, a noun formed from a verb by adding an ing.Â Now when you want to modify a gerund, you must use the possessive case.Â 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.Â 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.