3

1. I hate them calling her fat.

2. I hate their calling her fat.

Which one is correct and which one is not ? Or do both work under different circumstances ?

Please answer with explanation. Thank you. And by correct I mean grammatical and appropriate for formal writing.

  • 1. "I hate them". Because this sentence exist only this. – Takahiro Waki Sep 16 '16 at 20:08
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    @TakahiroWaki - Could you explain that more completely? I don't understand what you're trying to say. – stangdon Sep 16 '16 at 20:36
  • their calling her fat is their? or her?. very confused. So, I think you should avoid sentence 2. – Takahiro Waki Sep 17 '16 at 11:29
4

1. I hate them calling her fat.

2. I hate their calling her fat.

The verb - hate - licenses Gerund-Participle form of verb. It can also license a Noun Phrase.

3. I hate him.

4. I hate Meryl.

5. I hate copying answers in the exam.

A Gerund-Participle can have its own subject. A Noun Phrase can sit before the Gerund-Participle as its subject. The Noun Phrase can be in genitive form or in plain form.

6. I remember [his/him reading my mail].

In your quoted sentence calling her fat is a Gerund-Participle. So naturally the subject can be in genitive form or in plain form. So both of your sentences are grammatically correct and mean the same thing [you hate calling her fat. Who is calling her fat? Them]. But note that even if your sentence #2 is grammatically correct, it's not very natural. And it's not often that people will say/write something like this sentence.

You can analyze sentence #1 in a different way as well. You can think of the verb - hate - taking two complements - first, them and second, calling her fat.

-1

I hate them calling her fat

This means "I hate it when they call her fat" (which sounds more natural).

I hate their calling her fat

This is much more grammatically strained; it took me a while to decide that it could actually make sense. It turns "calling her fat" into a noun. It would mean "I hate that they call her fat". I wouldn't use this form.

-1

I hate them calling her fat.

This is incorrect. You do not hate them. This is an error sometimes made by native speakers.

I hate their calling her fat.

This is acceptable. You hate "their" conduct which is "calling her fat".

A better way to say this would be:

I hate that they call her fat.

In conversation the idea is often expressed like this:

I hate it when they call her fat.

  • 2
    I hate it when they call her fat. This sentence is the best, right? – V.V. Sep 16 '16 at 20:37
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    @V.V. It depends on the style for which you are aiming. My gut feeling is that "I hate it when they call her fat." is conversational and "I hate that they call her fat." is literary. – David42 Sep 16 '16 at 20:41
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    I think it's difficult to make the case that the first one is incorrect when it's used everywhere. – dan_waterworth Sep 16 '16 at 20:44
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    @V.V. In natural speech, there will often be an ellipsis here: I hate when they call her fat. (It is elided.) – P. E. Dant Sep 16 '16 at 21:11

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