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I was wondering if the two sentences below have the same meaning or a slight difference in meaning:

Do you mind my asking a question?

Do you mind if I ask a question?

The first one sounds to me as if someone keeps asking questions all the time.

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2 Answers 2

They mean the same thing. You are more likely to hear the second sentence in the US and the first sentence in the UK.

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Would you mind explaining why Do you mind me asking a question? is incorrect? –  Maulik V Aug 28 at 12:26
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@MaulikV Down to the middle of the last century formal usage held fairly strongly to the notion that since a gerund is a noun its subject must be expressed with a "modifying" possessive form. This "rule" has never governed in conversational registers, which accepts both possessive and objective subjects of the gerund. Today the objective form is widely accepted in formal registers, too. –  StoneyB Aug 28 at 13:19
    
@StoneyB _____________thanks! ___________ –  Gary's Student Aug 28 at 13:26

There is, as Gary's Student says, some regional variation; but the primary difference is that the if version is ordinarily used prospectively, before you ask the question, while the gerund version is ordinarily used retrospectively, after you have asked the question.

Consequently, Do you mind my asking a question? is fairly unlikely: the question you are talking about will ordinarily be one you have already asked and will determined with the or that or this.

This contrast between the two versions disappears if you cast your question as Would you mind ...?; in that case both versions take the prospective reading.


But this Google Ngram suggests that it is not great: the if version is dominant over both ACC- and GEN-gerund versions in both AmE and BrE. Granted, Google Ngrams are based on print uses; but sentences of this sort appear mostly in dialogue, not discursive prose, so this Ngram probably reflects spoken usage reasonably well.

Do you mind?

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"...while the gerund version is ordinarily used retrospectively, after you have asked the question." Yes, I see. That's why the "my" version sounds different to me. –  jeysmith Aug 28 at 16:24

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