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Hi,

I think I found out the word 'wailing' is an uncountable noun.
If that is so, then is this correct?

A feartul wailing was heard.

He heard a fearful wailing.

I would be more comfortable if I saw something like this:

He heard a fearful wailing of a dog,
or,
He heard a fearful wailing of the dog of the next-door neighbor.
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Comments  
AnonymousA feartul wailing was heard.

He heard a fearful wailing.
These are correct.
AnonymousHe heard a fearful wailing of a dog,
or,
He heard a fearful wailing of the dog of the next-door neighbor.
You need to say "the fearful wailing" in these. Also, it would be much more natural sounding to say "of his next-door neighbor's dog"
I think it would not be wrong to speak of the 'wailings'.
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Thank you.

I think it would be OK to speak of a pen that he found which belonged to his friend, Joe, like this:

I found a (one) pencil of a student. -- If the situation is that only studnents use pen (unbelievable as it sounds) and he don't know whose pen it is.
I found the pencil of a student. -- If the pen is prior-mentioned or if a student in wherever he is used only one pen, not two pencils ever.

I think your corrected version sounds right but I can't dispel the notion that my versions might be correct too under a right circumstance. I think we are making an instance of the uncountable noun "wailing" and that "instance" notion might get fuzzy if the definite article "the" is used in my opinion (I could be wrong). It seems to be different from something like "He heard the shouting by a skinny young man yesterday evening." Confused.

He heard a fearful wailing of a dog,
or,
He heard a fearful wailing of the dog of the next-door neighbor
AnonymousHe heard a fearful wailing of a dog,
Fine, especially because of the adjectival attribute. Adjectives tend to enable the use of an indefinite article in many contexts. Examples:
Birds were flying in the sky. Birds were flying in a blue sky.
I had lunch. I had an early lunch.
I saw George Bush on TV last night. I saw a sad George Bush on TV last night.
CB
Hi, thank you.

Why do you think RayH seemed to have said this has to be "the fearful wailing"?

1)He heard a fearful wailing of a dog

I think he said it has to be:
2)He heard the fearful wailing of a dog

I think RayH is correct but I also think no. 1 can be correct under a right situation. I think it would have been better if the sentence had a plural noun after "of" like this:
He heard a fearful wailing of dogs
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hi,
i've been struggling with coming to grips with the differences between verbal nouns and gerunds.
e.g. John's singing the national anthem bothered me. or John's singing of the national anthem bothered me.
which is correct, and in the second case is 'singing' a gerund or verbal noun?

The beginning of the book is better than the middle or end sections.
The beginning of a new book is always the most rewarding part. (beginning here meaning starting to read)
the first case is rather clear, i am not speaking of an action and it must be a verbal noun, but you can see where the problem lies.

  • The writing of a book is always an ambitious undertaking. (writing is the verbal noun)

  • from an article on verbal nouns on wikipedia,

    The gerund is like the participle ....frequently modified by a possessive noun or pronoun.

    taken from An English Grammar by W. M. Baskervill & J. W. Sewell

    i am really confused as to what makes a gerund a gerund, and when a verbal noun is a verbal noun. any help in this matter would be really appreciated.
    AnonymousWhy do you think RayH seemed to have said this has to be "the fearful wailing"?

    1)He heard a fearful wailing of a dog

    I think he said it has to be:
    2)He heard the fearful wailing of a dog

    I think RayH is correct but I also think no. 1 can be correct under a right situation. I think it would have been better if the sentence had a plural noun after "of" like this:
    He heard a fearful wailing of dogs

    You'll have to wait for RayH's explanation for his preferences. He heard a fearful wailing of a dog is fine grammatically but it does suggest that you may hear different kinds of wailings of a dog and therefore the sentence may sound odd to some. The plural dogs simply indicates that there were at least two dogs, nothing else. No grammatical difference, really.
    Grammatical terms cause confusion even among experts, so you have nothing to worry about!Emotion: smile This is because not all grammarians and usage experts use them in the same way. There are people who don't use the term "verbal noun" at all. They regard what I consider a verbal noun as a gerund. Examples:
    The speaking of English is easy. (A verbal noun and because speaking is a noun, the is posible before it. Even an adjectival attribute can be used: The correct speaking of English is easy.)
    Speaking English is easy. (A gerund, which to my mind is neither a verb nor a noun but a little bit of both. The is not possible before a gerund, nor is an adjectival attribute and these two things are a clear sign (to me) that a gerund is not a noun: Correct speaking English is easy. (WRONG!!!)
    Because there are hardly any inflections in English, there is bound to be occasional confusion as to the exact meaning of every word ending in ing as your example (beginning) in another post shows.
    I can't remember what I have written about these things before but if you are interested, you may wish to read these posts that deal with the gerund, verbal nouns and participles and their differences:
    He insisted on my/me singing a song. Participles vs Gerunds indefinite article before a gerund
    CB
    Hi CB,
    thanks so much for your reply(i was the one who asked about the differences between verbal nouns and gerunds). i agree that there seems to be discrepancies between one grammarians usage and another's. I certainly like your definition of gerunds, in so far as they are unable to take the definite article, however: "the gerund expresses action [and] it is often preceded by the definite article" e.g.(given) "Our culture therefore must not omit the arming of the man." from An English Grammar by W. M. Baskervill & J. W. Sewell.
    Perhaps your example might be used to illustrate the conundrum further: "The speech of the english language is beautiful". speech is surely a verbal noun, derived from the verb speak but there is no action being performed, i am merely naming an action. When i say "The speaking of the english language is easy", am I naming an action or am I implying that an action may be performed that is difficult. If I had never read the section in An English Grammar(reproduced in a variety of other articles i have ventured across during this travail) and a spectacular panoply of inconcise readings of the matter, then i would be quiet content to adopt your comfortable definition.
    thanks again cb for taking the time to look at this and all the other posts...especially the ones that are pure academic tomfoolery!
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