Which is accurate?

I am irritated by John’s chatting in the class.

or,

I am irritated by John chatting in the class.

 

How do you distinguish if you should use a possessive case or an objective one? 

ð => Use a possessive case in front of a gerund or a gerund phrase, and an objective case in front of a participle or a participial phrase.   By the way, the meaning changes when a possessive case is used versus an objective case. 

 

An easy way to distinguish which one to use is to look at what the sentence is trying to emphasize.

1a.  I am irritated by John’s chatting in the class.

ð => What am I irritated by?

ð => John’s chatting (in the class).

 

1b.  I am irritated by John (who is) chatting in the class.

ð => What am I irritated by?

ð => John.  I am irritated by John.  By the way, he is chatting in the class.

 

2a.  Everyone despises the politicians’ embezzling the fund.

ð => What we tried to emphasize here is the act of embezzling.

ð => What does everyone despise?

ð => The politician’s embezzling (of the fund)

 

2b.  Everyone despises the politicians embezzling the fund.

ð => What we tried to emphasize here is the politicians.

ð => What does everyone despise?

ð => The politicians.  By the way, they embezzle the fund.

 

3a.  The judge is asking for a bond prior to the defendant’s being released.  (O)

3b.  The judge is asking for a bond prior to the defendant being released.  (X)

ð => This is not saying that a bond is required prior to the defendant.  It is saying that a bond is required prior to defendant’s release.

 

4a.  I saw John running down the street.  (O)

4b.  I saw John’s running down the street.  (X)

ð =>  I saw John.  By the way, he is running down the street.   

 

5a.  I was annoyed by the woodpecker’s knocking on the wall.

       I was annoyed by the knocking of the woodpecker on the wall.

ð  => Here, we emphasize the woodpecker’s knocking (the knocking of the woodpecker).

5b.  I was annoyed by the woodpecker knocking on the wall.

       I was annoyed by the woodpecker which is knocking on the wall.

ð => Here, we emphasize the woodpecker.  The woodpecker annoyed me and at that time it was knocking on the wall.

 

7a.  I cannot stand his shouting at me.

ð => It is his shouting (at me) that I cannot stand.

7b.  I cannot stand him shouting at me.

ð => It is him that I cannot stand.  By the way, he is shouting at me.

 

8a.  I am pleased with John’s applying for medical school.

ð => John’s applying for medical school – gerund phrase

8b.  I am pleased with John, my nephew, applying for medical school.

ð => John, my nephew, applying for medical school – participial phrase.

 

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