Nobody asked me about my friend winning the..

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Arina777

New Member
Russian
Hello!
This is my first thread here, so I hope I am doing everything right....
I am doing an exercise and I have to find a mistake in the following sentence:
"Nobody asked me about my friend winning the lottery and I didnt volunteer any information"
I just dont see any mistake.... what's wrong with this sentence?:)
I really appreciate your help. Thanks!
 
  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    Welcome to the English forum, Arina!

    In your sentence I can see one small error as you have written it, but I don't think this is the idea of the exercise.
    Do you see any mispelling in the last five words? You made the same mistake in the next line. :)

    (Your sentence should also have a full stop at the end.)
     

    Arina777

    New Member
    Russian
    Hello e2efour,
    thanks for your replay! An error? Do you mean I missed an apostrophe in "didnt" and "dont"?:)
    If so, this is not what this exercise is about....
    in fact, in the book in this sentence the word "friend" is underlined which means the mistake is in the word or about how it's used in the sentence.
    thanks
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The missing apostrophe was what I was talking about.

    Some people use the possessive ('s) when we have an -ing phrase (or gerund phrase), i.e. "about my friend's winning the lottery..." But there is nothing wrong with "my friend winning the lottery...", which most people would write.
    This is similar to about him winning the lottery/about his winning the lottery, where his (possessive pronoun) may be more common in writing, but him is more common in spoken English.
     
    The only think I may guess about the word friend is that they expect you to write nobody asked me about my friend's winning the lottery, but I can't believe that they want to strech the idea of a verbal noun to this limit...

    I hope that a native comes soon to the rescue saying that I'm just telling crap:)
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    There's nothing wrong with "my friend winning..." and in fact I would prefer that to "my friend's winning" which, I think, sounds a little more old-fashioned or formal. It would be interesting to know if the exercise was set or devised by a native English speaker if they think "my friend winning..." is a mistake. It is not.

    There are plenty of threads about this here.
     
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    JustKate

    Senior Member
    It's called, among other things, the gerund possessive, and if you want to be strictly grammatical, dotting every i and crossing every t, you would indeed have to write "my friend's winning." I know, I know - I might very well write "my friend winning" as well, but if you want to use the most impeccable, unimpeachable grammar, which the person who devised this test evidently wants you to know how to do, you'll have to write "my friend's winning."

    This has come up a lot - here is the most recent of the many threads on it: insists on <me/my> posting

    You can also find it in the FAQ - scroll down to post #3 and look under "gerund, possessive" and click on the link to find lots of threads on this. (Edit: I just noticed that Enquiring has posted a similar link.)

    You won't find much agreement, though. Sorry about that!
     
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    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It is unfortunate that the people who write such exercises sometimes appear to have little grasp of how language is used. To call my friend winning a mistake is simply absurd.

    Here is a quotation from Huddleston and Pullum (A Student's Introduction to English Grammar 2005):
    "The choice between genitive and non-genitive depends partly on style and partly on the the type of noun phrase. The genitive is characteristic of fairly formal style and overall it is relatively infrequent." (my underlining - this refers to her father's below.)

    The model sentence given is She insisted on her father's/her father being present throughout the interview.
     
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    if you want to be strictly grammatical, dotting every i and crossing every t, you would indeed have to write "my friend's winning."
    I bow my head, I'm indeed fresh in English grammar, Kate, so you should bear with me. But there is also a practical reason to prefer the non 's version...
    If I hear my counterpart in speech saying "I've been very happy for my friend's winning the lottery" I would definitely understand that he has more than one friend which won the lottery at least once, which is a very rare occourrence in one person's life:) ...though they may have bought a ticket as a group...:confused: ...ok, leave it!:)

    Jokes aside, is it possible that the 's has been progressively lost in conversation as a point of clarification?
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    but I really think that my friend's winning the lottery is excessively pompous, or at least that my friend winning the lottery should by no means considered a mistake!
    I am sure that my father is only one among many people who were taught at school that they must use genitives before gerunds. Arina has not told us who set the exercise. When I went to Russia in the early 80s we were struck by the old-fashioned and aristocratic kind of English that the Russians were speaking. They had rather limited opportunity for contact with native speakers of English; and it seemed that their grammars had been written by previous generations who had had even less. For all we know, Arina might be quoting from an old Soviet text book.
     
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    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    That's been my experience too, se16teddy.
    And of course there is another issue: if you say "about my friend's winning the lottery" rather than write it, it risks being construed by the listener as "about my friends winning the lottery", in other words, more than one of your friends won the lottery. (It's good to have friends ;))
     

    Arina777

    New Member
    Russian
    Thanks everyone for your help!!!!!!!!!!
    I really appreciate your help.
    Se16teddy, the exercise book was bought in the US:) so, it wasn's set by Russian authors.
    again, thanks a lot for your explanations.
    This is the most friendly forum I've ever been in:)
     
    Thanks Arina;)

    I have a question now, regarding the extent to which the genitive rule can go, for eample, when it comes to transitive verbs.

    I saw my friend coming across the road (I saw my friend who was coming across the road).

    I saw my friend's coming across the road (I saw the coming of my friend across the word).

    Which of this sentences would have been recommended a century or so ago?
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I think this has to be regarded as a special case, chipulukusu. I don't think it has ever been possible to say I saw his coming across the road.

    For example, in Swan's Practical English Usage we read:
    Hear, see, watch, notice and similar verbs of perception can be followed by object + infinitive (without to) or object + -ing form.
    I heard him go down the stairs. I heard him going down the stairs.

    In I saw him coming across the road, coming means while he was coming.

    For an interesting discussion, see http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2544687.
     
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    I think this has to be regarded as a special case, chipulukusu. I don't think it has ever been possible to say I saw his coming across the road.

    For example, in Swan's Practical English Usage we read:
    Hear, see, watch, notice and similar verbs of perception can be followed by object + infinitive (without to) or object + -ing form.
    I heard him go down the stairs. I heard him going down the stairs.

    In I saw him coming across the road, coming means while he was comming.

    For an interesting discussion, see http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2544687.
    Thank you very much e2efour! This somehow reassures me:)! And thank you for the great link.

    And I didn't know I can say I heard him go down the stairs, this is added value for me...:)
     
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