High unemployment led to him not being able to find a job.

So I saw someone ask whether this was a valid sentence and even English people said it was. I think it has to be wrong though as the intended meaning is that the unemployment led to the fact that he couldn't find a job whereas in the above example it leads to "him" which makes no sense and is then modified by the participial phrase. So if he wanted to use the -ing form here while still making sense it would have to be:

High unemployment led to his not being able to find a job.

That is my understanding at least. But I need this cleared up as I hear similar sentences all the time which sound equally wrong to me, such as:

I appreciate you saying this

One could appreciate "you" which is what this looks like but if you go on to add saying it is likely that appreciate refers to that rather than the person so it would have to be changed to "your saying":

I appreciate your saying this

Very rarely do I hear the possessive case though so I suppose it is because it is much more convenient to use the objective case (although gerunds require possessive cases and its "grammatically wrong") compared to the possessive which can be disruptive (cases' child's etc. often multiple letters and ' in writing). Is this why I keep hearing these sentences or am I wrong entirely?

  • 2
    As a native BrE speaker, it sounds reasonable, although strictly speaking, I don't think that you can be led into not doing something.
    – Mick
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 20:32
  • Perhaps "result" would be better? Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 20:33
  • 1
    him is the object of to and "not being able to find a job" complements him. The transit strike led to us having to walk. The plane crash high in the mountains led to them eating their fellow passengers. led to means "resulted in".
    – TimR
    Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 20:39
  • Both are fine. Subordinate non-finite clauses like the ones in your examples can have as subject either a genitive pronoun (“my”, “your”, “his” etc.) or an accusative case pronoun (“me”, “you” “him” etc.). The choice between genitive and non-genitive depends mainly on style, the genitive being fairly formal, and less likely than the accusative.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 10:16

1 Answer 1


This sentence sounds valid to me, though not precise. In this case "unemployment" does not refer to the state of being unemployed, but the national figures for unemployment, as in what percentage of the job-seeking workforce can not find a job.

The issue with the sentence is that "high unemployment" is a symptom of it being difficult to find a job, not a cause.

The following is more accurate:

It was unsurprising he was unable to find a job, given the high unemployment the country was currently experiencing.

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