9

Your cooking made me happy.

Is this correct? Can "your cooking" be used as a noun? The more I read it, the weirder it sounded to me.

  • Simplify it by removing the modifier. Cooking made me happy makes sense, right? – Matthew Read Feb 15 '15 at 3:22
  • 2
    @MatthewRead But the default interpretation of that would be that my cooking made me happy. – StoneyB on hiatus Feb 15 '15 at 14:37
  • "wierd" is the internet spelling of "weird". Please fix it. For some weird reason, editing requires changing of at least six characters and I don't want to make any other changes. – gnasher729 Feb 16 '15 at 8:54
22

Yes, it is grammatical.

Interestingly, "your cooking" can mean either "the food you made" or "the fact that you cooked."

So, for instance:

"Everything you made for the care package was delicious. The food brought me great comfort during the stress of exams. Your cooking made me happy."

vs.

"I know it was a big deal for you to take the time away from your job to do this dinner. It means a lot to me that you did all the cooking personally. Your cooking made me happy."

7

It does sound a bit weird to my (American) ear, but not for grammatical reasons. The "-ing" form of a verb can be used as a noun. This "noun" form is called a "gerund".

I can imagine the example sentence being used in a scenario like this:

Older mother: Looking back, what did you enjoy as a child?

Grown up child: Your cooking made me happy.

If the conversation were between a man and a woman he was courting, or between a husband and wife, I would not expect this sentiment to be expressed the same way. A statement in the present tense would make more sense, like:

Your cooking makes me happy.

or

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

or a woman might say

Someone needs to write a book On the Care and Feeding of Boyfriends.

I also know families where the father does much of the cooking. In those families, I can imagine a child someday telling her father, "Your cooking made me happy."

  • To a Dutch ear it sounds natural. The example with present tense would actually sound weird to me, as it sounds like it's stating a fact instead of an event. – Stephan Bijzitter Feb 15 '15 at 20:43
  • @StephanBijzitter: it is stating a fact; the fact that when you cook for me, it makes me happy. (Or perhaps the fact that your cooking is so good that the food makes me happy.) If I was talking about a particular instance rather than an ongoing circumstance, it would have to be "Your cooking today made me happy". (Sorry, I don't know why; it just sounds wrong without the extra word.) – Harry Johnston Feb 15 '15 at 23:07
5

The -ing form of a verb may indeed be deployed as a noun (when this happens we call the -ing form a gerund), and play the same syntactic roles as any other noun. In those roles it may still take the same sorts of complement it takes as a verb, and it may take either adjectives or adverbs as modifiers.

Cooking rice is boring.
I hate your cooking.
I love my mother, but her atrocious cooking drove me from home.
I must thank Cedric for heroically cooking such an enormous meal on such short notice.

4

The sentence

Your cooking made me happy

is grammatical.

But the problem is the cooking in contemporary (American) English can refer either to

(a) the act of cooking

(b) the result of cooking

In the sentence you've made I would think it means (a), or to reword it:

That you cooked for me made me happy

OR

That you always cook[ed] for me made me happy


If you want to express the other meaning, then I would say:

I was happy to eat the food you made

OR

Eating the food you made made me happy

  • As a Dutchman, I would (and I am sure most other Dutchies would) interpret it as the result of cooking. If we were to speak of the act we would probably say something along the lines of "You cooking for me" – Stephan Bijzitter Feb 15 '15 at 20:45
2
  • Cooking may be a noun referring to the art of preparing food: "The artful way you prepare food makes me happy."

  • Cooking may be a gerund. Then this is a case of possessive with a gerund. It is like: "I hate his singing in the shower" – I hate that he sings in the shower. In your case: "It makes me happy that you cook." I guess that both forms could be understood as either "I am happy that you cook and nobody else but you" or "I am happy that you stopped playing and started cooking."

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