[Ads-l] prescriptivism problem

Mark Mandel mark.a.mandel at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 27 12:52:43 EST 2019


Distinguō, Iacobē, distinguō!

To me, both can refer to either present or future. But
1)  I am worried about his having an affair.
means "I am worried about that fact or possibility", whereas
2)  I am worried about him having an affair.
can be equivalent, but could also mean "I am worried about the effect an
affair [of his] {could have/is having} on him."

* Based on some classic quotation that, iirc, either Tolkien or Lewis used
to the other.

Mark Mandel


On Sun, Jan 27, 2019 at 12:02 PM James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at netscape.com>
wrote:

> Prescriptivists hold that the noun or pronoun modified by a gerund is to
> be in the possessive:
>     "I like his doing the dishes" not "I like him doing the dishes".
>
> Problem:  consider the following two sentences:
> 1)  I am worried about his having an affair.
> 2)  I am worried about him having an affair.
>
> To me there is a difference in meaning between the two sentences, which
> implies both are grammatical.
> 1) sounds to me that "he" is currently having an affair.
> 2) sounds to me that "he" is not currently having an affair but is likely
> to do so in the future.
>
> - Jim Landau
>
>

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