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Is it possible to say like that:

It is quite surprising because in my country parents complain about their children being lazy more than about their being online.
OR
...their children's being lazy and being them online?

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  • I'd say that the more natural expression is: "... in my country parents complain about their children being lazy more than about them being online". The genitive "children's" is possible, bur very formal and less likely.
    – BillJ
    Oct 28, 2023 at 8:44
  • Thank you! I think that these 'their children being lazy' and 'being them online' didn't come to my mind out of nowhere. I must have heard natives putting it like that. But at the moment I'm writing an essay, that's why I want to be very accurate with grammar and want it to as accurate as in formal English.
    – dilek22
    Oct 28, 2023 at 9:05
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    "Being them on line" is impossible; it's ungrammatical.
    – BillJ
    Oct 28, 2023 at 9:09
  • I got it, thank you very much!
    – dilek22
    Oct 28, 2023 at 9:12
  • Thx, @BillJ. I have incorporated your comments into my answer and added some words missed out earlier. Oct 28, 2023 at 13:46

3 Answers 3

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Constructions like

Parents complain about their children being lazy

are certainly used quite commonly, but sticklers reject the usage. Consider that the cause of the parents’ complaints is not their children, but a being lazy… in particular the being lazy that is engaged in by their children. That’s why they prefer the version

Parents complain about their children’s being lazy

For a more dramatic illustration of the sticklers’ objection, consider

I hate my child having cancer

Clearly, what’s hated is not the child but the child’s having the disease.

Although I myself endorse the sticklers’ logic and use their preferred constructions, I stipulate that the alternate versions, besides being common, are also almost always understood clearly.

Note, by the way, that modern grammarians don’t use the term possessive to mean these ’s forms, and it’s for the same reason that you were unsure about it. Instead, they use the more general term genitive.

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I would use the possessive version, children's being lazy. I noted in your comments that you want the passage to be formal.

The use of them in your second option is incorrect.

Edit

We could consider

It is quite surprising because in my country parents complain about their children's being lazy more than about their being online.

As @BillJ has commented, the version with the possessives is very formal.

For normal use, you may consider what BillJ suggested, which is more natural:

It is quite surprising because in my country parents complain about their children being lazy more than about them being online.

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  • Thanks a lot! So, if I say 'in my country parents complain about their children's being lazy more than about being online' , is it clear WHO is online, if I don't specify it by using a pronoun?
    – dilek22
    Oct 28, 2023 at 8:02
  • That should be clear from context. Anyway, I have edited my answer to minimise any ambiguity. Oct 28, 2023 at 8:07
  • I got it! Many thanks!
    – dilek22
    Oct 28, 2023 at 8:09
  • I disagree with @SeowjoohengSingapore. Yes, one could figure out from context that it’s their children’s being on line that people are complaining less about. But what the sentence with “…more than about being online” says is that the parents’ own being online causes less complaining than their children’s laziness does. Its construction is confusing at best, and I’d encourage you to avoid using it. Oct 28, 2023 at 12:09
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I feel that using possessive pronouns is unusual here.

I'd write it as 2 subject-verb-object_clauses (in italics) like this:

It is quite surprising because in my country parents complain about their children being lazy more than about themselves being online.

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