1. I do not like his working late.
  2. I do not like him working late.

Here, working is considered a gerund and it is suggested to use a possesive case instead of an objective case. My question is that both the sentences make sense to me with a difference in emphasis.

In 1, the emphasis is on the action of working. In 2, the emphasis is on the person himself, as in the problem is 'him' working late, not someone else. If we consider this 'him' will be the object and 'working' will act as a participle? Is the usage of 2 correct or should we always use possessive casses in instances like these?

  • 1
    Technically, 1 ought to mean "the fact that he works late" and 2 ought to mean "him when he is working late". But in practice, almost everyone uses 2 for both senses, at least informally, and some might even judge 1 to be ungrammatical because of its rarity. Mar 18 at 3:48

2 Answers 2


[1] I do not like [his working late].

[2] I do not like [him working late].

As with most sentences, there may be some emphasis, but it is not a distinguishing feature of either one.

Both clauses mean the same. The only difference is that [1] is restricted to formal style.

Grammatically, "like" is a catenative verb with the bracketed subordinate clause functioning as its catenative complement.

The noun phrase ("his/him") is not object of "like" but subject of the subordinate clause. It is not "him" that I don't like, but "his/him working late".

  1. I do not like his working late.
  1. I do not like him working late.

(2) is used when the emphasis is on him. In this case, working is adjectival and was previously called a present participle. Yes, him is the object.

When the emphasis is on working, previously called a gerund, (2) is common in informal setting, but (1) should be used in formal writing.

The verb+ing form is now called a gerund-participle.

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