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Jem could be malicious at times, as shown from Scout's explaining that Jem was pure evil.

When I wrote this sentence, everyone said that I should not use the possessive form of "Scout" for some reason.

I thought that it doesn't matter whether I use it or not and that I am actually encouraged to use it, but they said that it just does not make sense.

I myself strongly believe that when the noun is followed by a gerund of any type, it is fine to change the noun to possessive form if the noun is not plural.

For instance: His being a foreigner made thing a little difficult.

So why are they saying it is incorrect usage? Or is it actually correct?

  • We, not being them, cannot really tell you why they are saying it is incorrect usage, can we? – Victor Bazarov Sep 14 '15 at 23:17
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    More importantly, you should have an -s on the end of at times and made things, and you probably want to say was pure evil without a. Probably as shown by, too. – snailboat Sep 14 '15 at 23:22
  • Thank you. Also, I think as shown from is fine. Other than that, is using possessive form correct there? – greatvacaation Sep 14 '15 at 23:28
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    Yeah, I don't mean to say that as shown from is actually wrong. It's just that native speakers say and write as shown by far more often (COCA - BNC - Google Books). But since as shown from isn't entirely unattested, I put 'probably' in my comment to weaken the assertion a little. :-) – snailboat Sep 15 '15 at 7:48
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Your sentence is fine. Use of the possessive before the gerund is the usual rule English speakers learn. See this example. There is some debate about whether use of the possessive here is necessary (see this blog entry for more), but you are not incorrect.

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I think since you used the preposition "from", which is clearly intended to apply to "explaining" (and not to "Scout"), the gerund "explaining" becomes the object. You can hang any attributes/adjectives on it as you wish, and if you want to point out whose explaining it was, you need possessive.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you wanted to use a participle clause. How would you do it? Probably

..., as shown by Scout explaining that Jem...

Now, in that subclause you can use either possessive (genitive) or objective (accusative) with pretty much the same result. With objective, the "explaining" is a present participle. With possessive, it's a gerund.


Since the OP asked, here are two examples:

Fishing is a great sport! - gerund
He spent his entire summer fishing. - participle

The main difference is what role they play. Gerund plays the role of a noun. Participle plays the role of an adjective or adverb (adverbial phrase).

  • I don't really see any difference between present participle and gerund. Can you give an example? – greatvacaation Sep 15 '15 at 0:57
  • Since you used the preposition "from", the gerund "explaining" becomes the object. By this, do you mean that only "Scout's" can be used but not "Scout"? Only the possessive, but not the original form? – greatvacaation Sep 15 '15 at 1:08
  • No, it's not necessarily limited to possessive. But given that Scout is likely a creature, it's not idiomatic to say "as shown from Scout". You can say "as Scout had shown", or "as Scout showed", or even "as Scout explained", or "as I heard from Scout". – Victor Bazarov Sep 15 '15 at 1:24
  • Thank you so much. I finally understood what you were saying. – greatvacaation Sep 15 '15 at 1:26
  • Sorry for not being clearer earlier. – Victor Bazarov Sep 15 '15 at 1:26

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