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The definition you gave doesn't mention it being incorrect.

The definition you gave doesn't mention it's being incorrect.

1) Which is correct?

2) I struggle to decide between the possessive form and the objective form sometimes. When the object of the verb or prepositional phrase begins with a noun/pronoun and follows with a ing phrase, do we always use the possessive case, or does it depend on whether the noun/pronoun is able to possess?

Thank you!
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English 1b3 The definition you gave doesn't mention it being incorrect.

The definition you gave doesn't mention it's being incorrect.


In case no one's mentioned it, the second one is wrong (possibly just a typo). It should be:

The definition you gave doesn't mention its being incorrect.

[Edit] By the way, I most naturally understand both sentences to mean the same thing, namely "The definition you gave doesn't mention that it is incorrect." (whatever "it" is). Some people would use the possessive form, while others wouldn't (either out of ignorance, or consciously because they feel it looks fussy or pedantic).

The alternative interpretation of the first sentence -- "The definition you gave, being incorrect, doesn't mention it." doesn't come naturally to me. If I wanted that meaning I'd restructure it. In these types of sentences it is, in my view, unwise to rely on a possessive versus non-possessive meaning distinction, simply because so many people don't use the possessive form even when they probably should.

That's my two cents...
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It depends on what the (direct) simple object of the clause is.

[The definition you gave] [doesn't mention] <object> (SVO)

This simple object can either be the pronoun 'it' or the gerund (noun) 'being incorrect'. Next, the simple object is modified by either the participial phrase 'being incorrect' or the possessive pronoun its, respectively.

The definition you gave doesn't mention it being incorrect. -- it is not mentioned, and it is in a state of being incorrect.
The definition you gave doesn't mention its being incorrect. -- the incorrectness is not mentioned, specifically the incorrectness of it.

I assume 'it' refers to the definition. In that case the second version is correct.

This is a classic example (Fowler's):

1. Women having the vote share political power with men.
2. Women's having the vote reduces men's political power.

Both are correct sentences. In the first, the women are the ones who share the power, specifically those that have the vote. So women is the simple subject. In the second, having the vote is what reduces the political power of men, specifically the women's. So the gerund having is the simple subject. It works the same way for objects.

Another example from The Elements of Style:

Do you mind me asking a question?
Do you mind my asking a question?

In the first sentence, the queried object is to me, as opposed to other members of the group, asking a question. In the second example, the issue is whether a question may be asked at all.


This is also a nice example that I found:

We witnessed them being dragged off on ropes to their death, and could hear them being killed. *

Here, the second occurrence of them is unobjectionable as the direct object of hear. But while animals can be seen or heard, only events can be witnessed, and hence the direct object in the first clause must be the gerund being, and therefore them should be replaced by the possessive adjective their
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I don't see anything wrong with the first sentence even though it's not clear to what the it refers.

With regard to your second sentence I find it a bit odd because of the way you used the progressive being with incorrect.

Ex

It is being correct all the time that I enjoy most. (being is a gerund here)
The definition you gave doesn't mention it's being incorrect. (being is a present progressive here)

Let's wait for native speakers' opinions.
 Mr Wordy's reply was promoted to an answer.
Thanks for that additional explanation, Mr Wordy.

I felt that in the second the it's being incorrect part is wrong. Had it been simply 'it's incorrect' it would have been perfectly acceptable.
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ferdisHere, the second occurrence of them is unobjectionable as the direct object of hear. But while animals can be seen or heard, only events can be witnessed, and hence the direct object in the first clause must be the gerund being, and therefore them should be replaced by the possessive adjective their

Thanks, Ferdis. I agree with your understanding entirely. If the ing phrase has a pronoun noun/pronoun preceding it, one needs to decide whether the ing phrase or the pronoun/noun is the subject of the clause or the object of the preposition or verb.

In the case of your final example sentence, are you suggesting the second them should remain as such?
English 1b3In the case of your final example sentence, are you suggesting the second them should remain as such?

Yes, that is the suggestion. I assume what is meant is that they were screaming while being killed, so they heard them, the persons, not the act of killing. To be honest, this is still confusing me as well, but considering the heated debate among reputable grammarians throughout the ages on this topic, some confusion is probably warranted.

By the way, thank you for suggesting that book, a comprehensive grammar of the english language. I got myself a copy, and it is awesome.
ferdis1. Women having the vote share political power with men.
2. Women's having the vote reduces men's political power.

I somehow found myself staring at these two sentences for mintues, trying to lay my finger on what it is that make my ear twitch. First of all, I thought "vote" should be in plural. They both seemed to look grammatically ok at first, but the phrases, "having the vote" and "women's having the vote" just have that odd ring to it. Any idea?

It could be just me....
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dimsumexpressI somehow found myself staring at these two sentences for mintues, trying to lay my finger on what it is that make my ear twitch. First of all, I thought "vote" should be in plural. They both seemed to look grammatically ok at first, but the phrases, "having the vote" and "women's having the vote" just have that odd ring to it. Any idea?

It could be just me..

It corresponds to this dictionary definition of the noun vote: the right to such expression: to give women the vote. H.W. Fowler wrote these sentences, so I'm sure they are corect. (but it sounds archaic to me as well; I prefer the right to vote)
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