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In my opinion, gerund are verbs in noun form and they can be the subject, object or complement of a sentence.

If i have understood correctly, could you please let me know whether the following sentence contains gerund or not. If so, how we can signifies it as a gerund

It was not a question of them being able to get a car.

Please analyze the above sentence by dividing into clauses, phrases as well as subject,object and verb.

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    This is not quite idiomatic. A question for X means that it is a question which X must answer; a question of X means that it is X which is questionable. Do you mean "It was not a question (for them) of being able to get a car?" or "It was not a question [for somebody unspecified] of them being able to get a car"? – StoneyB Oct 21 '14 at 17:45
  • @StoneyB The sentence is quoted verbatim from Charlie and the Chocolate factory. Here them represents a family – pramod Oct 21 '14 at 17:53
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    From the book? The closest I find is "There wasn't any question of them being able to buy a better house". The only instance of this sentence Google finds is--this question! – StoneyB Oct 21 '14 at 18:31
  • For reference: This question first appeared in the comments on another answer. – snailcar Oct 22 '14 at 0:49
  • I have edited my question. Please check it once – pramod Oct 22 '14 at 5:38
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Stoney is correct. "It was not a question for them being able to get a car" is not acceptable English. If it really did appear in a book, then the publishers need to find new editors/proofreaders.

In "It was not a question of them being able to get a car", 'being' is a gerund; it is a form of the verb, but has some noun-like qualities. This is why some purists would prefer 'their' to 'them'.

  • Could you please let me know what type of noun-like qualities it has ? Because, I can't understand how it is a gerund. Are the following sentences are equal 1. were you able to buy a car ? 2. being able to buy a car – pramod Oct 22 '14 at 3:03
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It was not a question of them being able to get a car.

Yes. It's a gerund. Its subject is them.

In English, sometimes it's hard or perhaps impossible to say whether the -ing form of a verb is a present participle or a gerund. In this sentence, one could argue that being is a participle modifying them. But I think it's clear that the question is about whether "they" could get the car, not simply about "them".

There is also another way to indicate the subject of a gerund, and that's to put the subject into the possessive case:

It was not a question of their being able to get a car.

The whole clause, whether you word it "them being able to get a car" or "their being able to get a car", is the object of the preposition of. So, the clause is functioning as a big noun. This is the main thing gerunds do: they enable you to package up a verb, complete with its own subject and predicate, and treat it as a noun in a larger sentence.

"A question of them being able to get a car" is the subject-complement of "It".

The main verb is "was". The main subject is "It".

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