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John being a good teacher, his son never failed.

With pronouns people make sentences like:

He / his / him being a good teacher, his son never failed.

He(subject pronoun) seems more appropriate to me, as John is a subject. Please explain.

  • You might want to consider: As John was a good teacher. Your construction is quite awkward. – Lambie May 11 at 15:52
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John being a good teacher, his son never failed.

This is a grammatically correct sentence. John being a good teacher is a Gerund_Participial clause (non-finite clause) with John is the explicit subject of the non-finite clause. This clause is a subordinate clause anchored to the matrix clause - his son never failed. There is no direct semantic relationship between the subordinate clause and the matrix clause. The meaning is to be inferred from the context. And here the natural interpretation is causal - his son never failed because John was a good teacher.

But the problem arises when the subject of this subordinate clause is a pronoun. We have to choose the proper case.

He/him being a good teacher, his son never failed. [CORRECT]
His being a good teacher, his son never failed. [INCORRECT]

When the Gerund-Participial clause is non-complement either Nominative or Accusative case of pronoun can occur as the explicit subject of the clause. Genitive case never occurs in non-complement Gerund-Participial clause.

In this particular sentence the Gerund-Participial clause is a supplement, and it is non-complement. And hence using his is incorrect. As an aside the him occurs in informal context.

REFERENCE
The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language page No. 1191 and 1220 and 1265

  • The relevant on page no 1265 is quoted in my another answer. If you want, you can read it. Here it is ell.stackexchange.com/a/208431/3463 – Man_From_India May 11 at 15:31
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    +1 I have seen several answers on this site asserting that absolute constructions are ungrammatical. Given the prevalence of absolute constructions in modern fiction writing, I am surprised that so many people haven't seen them and find them ungrammatical. – Eddie Kal May 11 at 17:26
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John being a good teacher, his son never failed.

This sentence is missing something. The placement of the subject means there is currently no significance to the fact that John is a good teacher. It seems obvious that it is meant to be the reason for his son never failing, but nothing links the two. It is also an incomplete sentence, as you would neither say "John his son never failed".

I think it should be:

Being a good teacher, John made sure his son never failed.

or

John, being a good teacher, made sure his son never failed.

These both suggest that John intentionally ensured his son did not fail, perhaps by tutoring him.

If though you wanted to minimise that implication and simply suggest that John's teaching ability had a good effect on his son's performance, you could say:

John being a good teacher meant his son never failed.

  • Can I say: "The day being rainy, the school remained closed."? – Kumar sadhu May 10 at 9:15
  • @Kumarsadhu Not really. It should be "Being a rainy day, the school remained closed". – Astralbee May 10 at 9:19
  • Thank you very much – Kumar sadhu May 10 at 9:33
  • Could it be: "It being a rainy day, the school remained closed. " ? As there are two subjects hare -- the day and the school – Kumar sadhu May 10 at 9:57
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    I don't think John being a good teacher, his son never failed. is a wrong sentence. And there is nothing missing there. In addition to that you haven't mentioned in your answer anything about pronoun that the OP is mainly asking about. As another aside I think The day being rainy, their school remained closed is a grammatical sentence, though it might not be preferred as much as your suggested alternative. – Man_From_India May 10 at 15:24

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