Tips for Writers: Using the Possessive with a Gerund

moduleCASE80I’m currently working on revisions to my novel manuscript. I’ve been over the draft numerous times, so I’m not finding a lot of typos or grammar errors. My focus this time through, rather, is on style and continuity.

But I am spotting the occasional error, and I want to bring one of those to your attention.

I had written, “. . . hitting the road without him catching on.” In doing so, I had made an error that I frequently catch in the writing of others: failure to use the possessive noun or pronoun with a gerund. The sentence should read, “. . . hitting the road without his catching on.” In my defense, I think I was thrown by the preposition, which normally would take an objective pronoun, as in, ” . . . hitting the road without him.” But the real object of the preposition is “catching on,” so the modifier must be possessive.

I’m glad I caught the mistake. For a full discussion of the issue, check this out: Using the Possessive Case with Gerunds.

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  1. Hi Cliff –

    The link “Using the Possessive Case with Gerunds” doesn’t work for me. I get a message saying the page doesn’t exist.

    Hope all’s well –


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