I have read the following examples in various English texts:

preposition + pronoun + past participle
Despite him tied up... With one hand tied up behind..

preposition + noun + adverb
with my right hand behind...

preposition + noun + preposition phrase
despite him in the infancy...
despite him taken hold of a personage...

I stood with my hands on the horses' necks, feeling the electricity of their thinking,

However, I wonder if any of these are actually correct, because I was taught that while a preposition should always be followed by noun, pronoun, noun phrase, or gerund (with an agent or without an agent), and that nouns can be followed by preposition phrases, adjectives, or nouns, they must define the noun otherwise a comma must be used.

For example:

So, despite the pain in my heart (which pain? the pain that is in my heart)

Because of these rules as I understand them, I think "despite him being tied up" (a gerund with an agent) makes more sense than "despite him tied up" (there aren't two "him"s, one of which is tied, the other not).

Am I correct? Are the examples I listed above actually incorrect? Is my rewrite of the first sentence correct?

  • I've taken the edit DARK DRAGON made and cleaned up the question's grammar and formatting. I think this asks a valid question for ELL, as it shows the research that's been done and specifies the exact point of confusion, and so I've voted to reopen. The only thing I would ask is if DARK DRAGON could also supply the exact source of the fragments he quoted, so that we can see the full contexts. Commented Feb 7, 2022 at 7:24

1 Answer 1


You are correct in saying that in all of these examples, using a gerund with an agent is the right answer. In fact, it doesn’t just “make more sense,” it’s essentially wrong to write it any other way.

But in fact, your sentences should actually read

Despite his being tied up…

despite his having taken hold of a personage…

despite his being in infancy…

This actually ties back to another ELL conversation on English possessive pronouns being used as disjunctive pronouns.

I objected to his being there.

I objected to him being there.

The upper sentence is the formally correct version. This is because in these cases, “being there” is functioning as a noun, and so the possessive pronoun is used to attribute the noun to a specific subject. The pronoun “his” is considered disjunctive because it’s detached from the verb “being,” as “being” is functioning as part of a larger noun phrase. There’s a rather informative Reddit thread on the subject, if you’d like to read more.

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