Does a gerund imply a subject like imperatives, or does a gerund need to have a possessive pronoun?

Play soccer! ( = you play soccer.)

Playing soccer is fun. (= your playing soccer is fun?)

  • Please give concrete contexts.
    – fev
    Jul 16, 2021 at 13:17

1 Answer 1


In Playing soccer is fun the subject or agent of playing (the person performing the action of the verb) is not a particular person, it is a general statement. Playing does imply an agent, surely, but not in the way that the way that the imperative does (Play soccer with me! - who? - You: one person or more than one. The subject is specific.)

In your playing soccer is fun, the agent is definitely specified, and that is you. It is true, your is a possessive pronoun:

We often put a noun or pronoun in front of a gerund to show who or what is doing the action in the gerund. This noun or pronoun is called the subject of the gerund. In formal writing, the subject of the gerund should be in the possessive form:

  • Your leaving early was a wise decision.
  • We celebrated Gord’s winning the contest.
  • Natalie objected to my borrowing her hockey stick.

Note: In informal writing, there is a trend toward dropping the possessive before a gerund. We often use a simple noun or an object pronoun instead:

  • We celebrated Gord winning the contest.
  • Natalie objected to me borrowing her hockey stick. However, in formal writing, the use of the possessive form before a gerund is still preferred. Also, the possessive form may be important for clarity. Consider the difference between the two examples below:
  • Jorge is in favour of the candidate being interviewed Friday. [Jorge likes the candidate who has an interview on Friday.]
  • Jorge is in favour of the candidate’s being interviewed Friday. [Jorge wants the interview to be on Friday.]


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