I'm not a native English speaker.

for me, those two sentences are the same meaning:

one): it was more about me being obsessed with the job.

two): it was more about that I was obsessed with the job.

  • 4
    Yes, the same meaning, but the second one is ungrammatical because the preposition "about" does not license (permit) a that- clause as complement. Note that you can say "It was more about the fact that I was obsessed with the job". – BillJ Aug 17 '16 at 9:33
  • @BillJ Are you familiar with OP's use of 'object complement' in the title? I've only seen this as a designation for predicate complements which characterize a direct object. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 17 '16 at 10:16
  • @StoneyB Odd, isn't it? Since the OP was asking about meaning, I skipped over the wording of the title. There's no transitive verb/direct object, so no object complement of course. Btw, would you not consider "obsessed" to be an adjective (not a verb), so "obsessed with the job" is an AdjP as PC of "being". Adjectival "obsessed" does select the prep "with" so it seems reasonable to me. – BillJ Aug 17 '16 at 11:15
  • @BillJ Yes, on reconsideration you're right -- the comment clause is a copulation, not a passive. I'll amend my answer accordingly – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 17 '16 at 12:12
  • Not to disagree with BillJ's remark that "about does not license a that-clause". To my ear, it does not. But I've been hearing this construction with increasing frequency from speakers who are in their twenties, who use "It was more about..." as if it were a variant of "The real reason was" and give it the licensing that phrase has. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Aug 17 '16 at 12:43

In both your sentences the subordinate clause headed by BE is the object (or 'oblique') of the preposition about.

Terminology varies widely, but I'm only familiar with 'object complement' as a designation for a 'predicate' or 'predicative' complement of a verb which characterizes the verb's direct object:

The dean named Prof. Sartorius chair of the committee.
We painted the room red.
Please put it on the shelf.

Your number 'two' is at best only marginally grammatical in contemporary English. There are only a few prepositions which license full finite clauses ('content' clauses) introduced by that as their objects; Huddleston and Pullum, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, 2002, p.971 lists these:

but considering except given granted
in notwithstanding now provided providing
save seeing so supposing

That cannot be omitted with in or with but in the sense 'except', and with so the use with that may have a different meaning than the use without it. That can be omitted with the others (but the omission with notwithstanding and save has a very old-fashioned ring).

These prepositions may take content clauses as their objects, but that must be omitted:

after although as as if as long as as soon as
because before for for all if in case
lest like once since though till/until
unless when where whereas

CGEL also lists (p.623) a handful of 'prepositional expressions' which may be followed by that clauses: the that may be omitted with in the event, on the grounds, for all, for fear, and on condition but must be included with in order.

With any other preposition I'd advise you to stick to the gerund (-ing form) clause used in your number 'one'.

  • A fine answer! But just want to ask you if about my being obsessed and about me being obsessed is the same. Agree that my being obsessed is an oblique, but me being obsessed? I don't think it is. I think me is the object of about, and being obsessed is a Gerund-participle, here modifying the object of the preposition. – Man_From_India Aug 17 '16 at 17:04
  • @Man_From_India That's the traditional analysis; but that traditional analysis led to the rational but unhappily counterfactual notion that the -ing form which heads these chunks is a kind of noun, which requires that the subject be cast in possessive case, my being obsessed, so you end up with a 'legitimate' noun phrase. Contemporary analysis says that what's going on here is the 'object' of the preposition is not a phrase but a clause--the state expressed by I BE obsessed, and the pronoun I picks up the accusative case by a process that sort of ... – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 17 '16 at 17:48
  • 'compromises' by putting case on the only element in the clause that can take case, the pronoun. Certainly "it" isn't about me; it's about the fact that "I am obsessed..." – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 17 '16 at 17:49
  • thank you. It's now clear. I always get confused in such things. – Man_From_India Aug 18 '16 at 0:45

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