I'm reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson and came across the following sentence. It's taken from chapter 69, "The General":

It is physically impossible for him to get out of the turret. Even if he could, it would just lead to his getting arrested.

I'm not sure but the highlighted his in the sentence seems incorrect to me. In my opinion it should be replaced by him or the "getting arrested" should be changed to "arrest". Could someone, please, explain this to me?


1 Answer 1


It is correct. Getting arrested is a gerund phrase that acts like a noun, that works with the verb leading. Example:

The report was stapled incorrectly, which contributed to the boss' being angry.

In my opinion, it's not great writing though. It would have been simpler to say

... which contributed to the boss' anger.

In the same way with your example:

... it would just lead to his arrest.

You can also use the third person, which I think turns it into a participle phrase that acts like an adjective

... it would just lead to him being arrested

I wouldn't overthink it though. Sometimes a writer had a particular style that just flows from their train of thought.

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