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Can I use the phrase

"My being neat and quiet"

as a subject of the sentence?

For example,

My being neat and quiet seems something they appreciate.

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  • Sure. But you can't "seem" things, so write "My being neat and quiet seems like (or seems to be) something they appreciate."
    – user3169
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 21:10
  • @user3169 It seems you are incorrect about that.
    – stangdon
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 21:59
  • seem should be followed by adjective. It's a linking verb. however, it could be: seem that ..., seem to, seem to be Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 4:06
  • @user3169, what is the head-word of "My being neat and quiet" ? It must be a noun, right? Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 4:08
  • @HermanNz "my being neat and quiet" is a clause, with explicit subject, verb and object of its own. Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 6:15

3 Answers 3

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In contrast with other languages a gerund is a verbal that ends in -ing and functions as a noun.

The term verbal indicates that a gerund, like the other two kinds of verbals, is based on a verb and therefore expresses action or a state of being. However, since a gerund functions as a noun, it occupies some positions in a sentence that a noun ordinarily would, for example: subject, direct object, subject complement, and object of preposition.

Gerund as subject:

• Traveling might satisfy your desire for new experiences. (Traveling is the gerund.)

• The study abroad program might satisfy your desire for new experiences. (The gerund has been removed.)

Gerund as direct object:

• They do not appreciate my singing. (The gerund is singing.)

• They do not appreciate my assistance. (The gerund has been removed)

-OWl Purdue

When the gerund functions as a subject or object it may take the possessive pronoun.

So, in this case “My being neat and quiet” functions as the subject.

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If a gerund has a determiner in front of it (possessive pronouns and articles are determiners), or an object pronoun in front it, it does not change the rules where gerunds are used.

Walking to the park made me tired.

My walking to the park made me tired.

The walking to the park made me tired.

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My being neat and quiet seems something they appreciate.

This is a correct sentence.

The complement (subject) of this sentence is a clause (Gerund-Participle clause) - "my being neat and clean". The VP - seems something - is also correct; it's verb + complement (Object). Then the object is being modified by a non-wh relative clause - "they appreciate ___".

The gap in the relative clause (I denoted it with "___") is anaphorically linked to the object of the main clause - something. So something fills the gap of the relative clause - they appreciate _something_.

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  • No, it's not a correct sentence. "seems like something they appreciate" would be correct.
    – verbose
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 6:30
  • @verbose I agree that the alternative you suggested is far more common, but the sentence OP asked is also correct as is. Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 6:35
  • It depends on your definition of "correct", I guess.
    – verbose
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 6:50
  • @verbose I believe whether to add to be (or like) after seem is decided by the type of Predicative Complement present after seem. If it's Specifying there has to be a to be (Or like) after seem. It's not the case here. The PC - something - is not specifying anything here. Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 7:09
  • yes, it is. It's specifying "something they appreciate." It's not merely an unspecified "something".
    – verbose
    Commented Jan 29, 2017 at 7:55

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