Victoria won't be happy about my killing you

  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    A lot of native English-speakers would use "...about me killing you", JungKim. Grammarians who accept the construction think of "killing" in the phrase as a participle. Those who prefer "...about my killing you" think of "killing" as a gerund.

    Because there is some disagreement about the correctness of the construction, you'll have to decide for yourself whether "...about me killing you" is grammatically acceptable. I think it is, although I tend to use the gerunds in similar statements.
     
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    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I agree with Owlman that both forms would be considered acceptable.

    However, the form with the gerund is more formal. (I prefer it, but to some people it sounds stilted.) You could change it to 'me killing you', but I suspect the author chose the form he did to characterize the speaker. It says something about the speaker that he follows to the most formal rules of grammar while he is talking about murder -- a crime which makes all concerns about grammar irrelevant.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    A lot of native English-speakers would use "...about me killing you", JungKim. Grammarians who accept the construction think of "killing" in the phrase as a participle. Those who prefer "...about my killing you" think of "killing" as a gerund.

    Because there is some disagreement about the correctness of the construction, you'll have to decide for yourself whether "...about me killing you" is grammatically acceptable. I think it is, although I tend to use the gerunds in similar statements.
    Now that you mentioned both participle and gerund, I pondered over the dichotomy between the two and the rationale behind the distinction. Please see if I got this right.

    Those considering "killing" a present participle may have thought that "me" is the object of the preposition "about", whereas those a gerund that "killing you" the object. If that's the case, it ultimately depends on what the speaker actually meant whether to use "my" or "me", doesn't it?

    What do you think? Am I overthinking it? :)
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Am I overthinking it? :)
    You can never overthink anything, JungKim. ;)

    However, I don't think the difference has to do with "about." Instead, I would say that "my killing you" puts emphasis on the action, while "me killing you" puts emphasis on the actor. "My killing you" is more impersonal and also more formal. Perhaps the speaker is using a more impersonal form to subconsciously distance himself from the action he is about to perform.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I suspect the author chose the form he did to characterize the speaker.
    The speaker in this case is a vicious, superman-like vampire talking to a weak, innocent human girl. Do you think it's possible in that context that the screenwriter and/or the director intentionally or subconsciously chose "my" over perhaps more usual "me" to give the speaker the impression of some sort of authority, power, etc?

    If so, "me" is the more usual form that I should be using in a daily conversation, isn't it?
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I don't know, but yes, I would suppose that that the writer chose the more formal 'my' because the speaker is pretentious, as well as a bully.

    Yes, 'me' is the more usual form. The possessive may sound stiff and pretentious to some people. Most people use the 'me' form most of the time, though there are a few exceptions. Let me see whether I can find some helpful previous threads. If I find them, I'll come back and post them here.

    Added:
    Here is one thread I was remembering: when the possessive is NOT possible before a gerund

    You will find more threads discussing specific examples by searching for gerund possessive.

    :)
     
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    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Cagey, thanks for the links. They were very helpful, although frankly a bit convoluted for me to follow. :)
    At the end of the day, however, most native speakers and even analysis-driven non-natives like myself would not be remembering the complex grammatical details when speaking "She won't be happy about/with me kissing you". It seems to me that I can't go wrong with the accusative right after a preposition, unless of course the following ~ing acts as a pure noun as in "my kissing of you", which wouldn't be a problem because I wouldn't be using it anyway. :D
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Yes, you can probably avoid a lot of problems by not talking about murdering people or kissing them. :D
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Yes, you can probably avoid a lot of problems by not talking about murdering people or kissing them. :D
    :)
    Great advice!
    I was thinking about this general point, when I use me or my with an -ing verb form.
    Choosing another verb, it seems easier, e.g. weeding the garden.
    Victoria didn't think much of my weeding.
    Clearly a gerund, the weeding is something which has noun-like qualities, it is an attribute of mine. Comparable to my dancing or my kissing, for that matter.

    Where it becomes less clear is if the sentence goes on to bring in an object so the -ing form is impacting on something else and then looks more like a verb.
    Victoria didn't think much of me weeding her garden. I pulled up her best plants.
    To use my there (and in your original) you have to think of the whole thing (weeding her garden or killing you) as an attribute belonging to me.
     
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