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So I have chanced upon this sentence

These workers are not worth our paying them anymore.

I am really puzzled by this kind of structure. Should it be our payment instead ? If paying is somehow a noun, then why using them ?

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  • Paying is not a noun here, it is a verb. And them is the indirect object of the verb. If you want to shorten the sentence and it's already understood who might be doing the paying, then you could go with "the workers aren't worth paying any more".
    – The Photon
    Dec 27, 2017 at 2:04
  • "paying" is a gerund here, so it's in a strange category as it is a noun that acts like a verb. Do you understand? These weird gremlins are also categorized as "verbals" or "verbids".
    – Nick
    Dec 27, 2017 at 9:36

1 Answer 1

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In this sentence, "paying" is not exactly a noun, but it's not exactly a verb either (roughly speaking). In this sentence it's a gerund — a part of speech combining properties of a verb and of a noun. Quoting the Wikipedia article:

A gerund is a verb form that functions as a noun.

As a verb form, it can accept an indirect object "them". At the same time, as a noun-like part of speech, it can follow a possessive pronoun "our".

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  • So by what you mean, "My walking in the park" is grammatically correct, although it makes no logical sense ? Jan 2, 2018 at 2:19
  • @randomtrekker: Yes, "my walking in the park" is a grammatically correct clause, but it's not a full sentence. It makes just as much sense as "my book" -- a noun phrase, but not a sentence. There will be more meaning to it if you put it in a sentence. For example: "During my walking in the park I witnessed a robbery."
    – zipirovich
    Jan 2, 2018 at 2:54

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