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   Chapter 35 POSSESSIVE FORMS.

An English Grammar By William Malone Baskervill Characters: 3911

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:04


As antecedent of a relative.

407. The possessive forms of personal pronouns and also of nouns are sometimes found as antecedents of relatives. This usage is not frequent. The antecedent is usually nominative or objective, as the use of the possessive is less likely to be clear.

We should augur ill of any gentleman's property to whom this happened every other day in his drawing room.-Ruskin.

For their sakes whose distance disabled them from knowing me.-C. B. Brown.

Now by His name that I most reverence in Heaven, and by hers whom I most worship on earth.-Scott.

He saw her smile and slip money into the man's hand who was ordered to ride behind the coach.-Thackeray.

He doubted whether his signature whose expectations were so much more bounded would avail.-De Quincey.

For boys with hearts as bold

As his who kept the bridge so well.

-Macaulay.

Preceding a gerund,-possessive, or objective?

408. Another point on which there is some variance in usage is such a construction as this: "We heard of Brown studying law," or "We heard of Brown's studying law."

That is, should the possessive case of a noun or pronoun always be used with the gerund to indicate the active agent? Closely scrutinizing these two sentences quoted, we might find a difference between them: saying that in the first one studying is a participle, and the meaning is, We heard of Brown, [who was] studying law; and that in the second, studying is a gerund, object of heard of, and modified by the possessive case as any other substantive would be.

Why both are found.

But in common use there is no such distinction. Both types of sentences are found; both are gerunds; sometimes the gerund has the possessive form before it, sometimes it has the objective. The use of the objective is older, and in keeping with the old way of regarding the person as the chief object before the mind: the possessive use is more modern, in keeping with t

he disposition to proceed from the material thing to the abstract idea, and to make the action substantive the chief idea before the mind.

In the examples quoted, it will be noticed that the possessive of the pronoun is more common than that of the noun.

Objective.

The last incident which I recollect, was my learned and worthy patron falling from a chair.-Scott.

He spoke of some one coming to drink tea with him, and asked why it was not made.-Thackeray.

The old sexton even expressed a doubt as to Shakespeare having been born in her house.-Irving.

The fact of the Romans not burying their dead within the city walls proper is a strong reason, etc.-Brewer.

I remember Wordsworth once laughingly reporting to me a little personal anecdote.-De Quincey.

Here I state them only in brief, to prevent the reader casting about in alarm for my ultimate meaning.-Ruskin.

We think with far less pleasure of Cato tearing out his entrails than of Russell saying, as he turned away from his wife, that the bitterness of death was past.-Macaulay.

There is actually a kind of sacredness in the fact of such a man being sent into this earth.-Carlyle.

Possessive.

There is no use for any man's taking up his abode in a house built of glass.-Carlyle.

As to his having good grounds on which to rest an action for life.-Dickens.

The case was made known to me by a man's holding out the little creature dead.-De Quincey.

There may be reason for a savage's preferring many kinds of food which the civilized man rejects.-Thoreau.

It informs me of the previous circumstances of my laying aside my clothes.-C. Brockden Brown.

The two strangers gave me an account of their once having been themselves in a somewhat similar condition.-Audubon.

There was a chance of their being sent to a new school, where there were examinations.-Ruskin

This can only be by his preferring truth to his past apprehension of truth.-Emerson

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