Consider the following two sentences:

  1. Attending X gave me a sense of appreciation for Y.
  2. By attending X, I acquired an appreciation for Y.

I'm not quite sure what's more appropriate to use. From experience, sentence #2 sounds more direct. However, because the verb is "attending," it seems more natural to use #1.

(Wasn't sure how to properly set the title for this post. Please change if someone comes up with a more apt title.)

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    I don't understand the title. Why do you think that "me" is a subject? – BillJ Oct 31 '17 at 8:16
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    Me Tarzan. You Jane. – Strawberry Oct 31 '17 at 14:18
  • Both sentences are correct. To me, the first sounds more like something you might say in regular conversation, while the second sounds slightly more formal, such as might be found in a written report. – GentlePurpleRain Oct 31 '17 at 19:15

In Sentence 1, the subject is Attending X (not me), and the verb is gave (not attending).

Your first sentence is an example of a sentence with a gerund phrase as a subject. Wikipedia gives these examples:

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In Sentence 2, the subject is I and the verb is acquired, and attending X is a prepositional object.

In short, you can say it either way without fear of violating any grammatical rules.

I think your question title is fine – not because it’s accurate (it isn’t), but because it reveals the source of your misunderstanding.

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    It would be better to analyse the non-finite clause "eating cakes" in D as a catenative complement of "stop", not direct object. – BillJ Oct 31 '17 at 8:37
  • Between you and I, if you can get people to stop using nominative case as the object of a preposition then we're really on to something! – Danny Oct 31 '17 at 20:24

The title is misleading since "me" is not the subject in your first example.

  1. Attending X gave me a sense of appreciation for Y.

  2. By attending X, I acquired an appreciation for Y.

In [1] the subject of the sentence is the non-finite clause “attending X“. The predicate is the verb phrase “gave me a sense of appreciation for Y” where “me” is indirect object of “gave” and “a sense of appreciation” is direct object.

In [2] the subject is “I”. The preposition phrase “by attending x” is an adjunct of purpose, a modifier in clause structure. Within the PP the embedded subjectless non-finite clause “attending x” is complement of “by”.

Otherwise there's very little to choose between the two sentences - just two different ways of saying the same thing.


It would depend on what type of format you are using this for. When it comes to something as formal as a research paper, both sentences would turn this research paper into an informal tone making you sound less credible. However, say this was a written, less formal speech and you are allowed to use such terminology. Then you are most likely acceptable to use this because you are giving a personal opinion that could invoke audience's attention. Doing so also can promote the audience to sympathize making either sentence pretty powerful if there is a good structure written previous to this example.

Otherwise, avoid first person terminology.

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    I don’t think the second sentence is all that informal, despite the use of the first-person. The “avoiding first-person terminology” guidance you share here applies to academic papers. Sentences like the ones given by the OP would be fine in, say, a newspaper editorial. – J.R. Oct 31 '17 at 8:03

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