grammar was #onething that happened

A teacher-trainee asked me this question :

“I imagined him winning the game” vs. “I imagined his winning the game”
Which is more common or makes sense?
In the first sentence, is ‘him” an object for the verb or a subject for the gerund? In the second sentence, is ‘his’ a subject for the gerund?
As you know, Korean students tend to analyze a sentence, and some asked me the questions above. My answer was just ‘”Both may be grammatically correct.'” Was I right or wrong?

This was my answer:
I think you were correct in saying that both are grammatically correct. Of course we know that “him” is an object pronoun and that “his” is a possessive adjective This means that they become the object complement.
However, it also seems that both of these can also act as the subject of the gerund. However, it did take a lot of research for me to be able to tell you this. According to the link I shared, this can be found in Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.
I hope this gives you some peace of mind! :) Let me know what you think.
That was the best answer I could give, and it took me a while to formulate it. I share this with you as my response to Anne Hendler’s #OneThing blog challenge because these are the types of questions I get from Korean high school teachers of English, and I struggle to answer them. I struggle because they ask me to go to linguistic depths that I don’t usually dive into. I know my strengths as an English teacher lie more on the sociolinguistics side. However, these questions are very important reminders of the reality of my teacher-trainees. They keep me aware of the types of challenges they face.
Like the teacher, there is still a little doubt in my mind as to whether or not my answer is satisfactory. But that’s another reason why I’m posting this: it’s time to air out the doubt, and face my grammar demons. If you have any thoughts to add to this grammar question and my attempt at an answer, I’d love to hear them.

2 thoughts on “grammar was #onething that happened

  1. The second option just sounds weird and wrong. This is only my opinion. I am not commenting as a grammar teacher, rather I comment on what sounds natural to my ear.’His’ seems to refer to a possession, and should accompany an subject, as in ‘his toy’, ‘his game’ etc ‘Him’ easily stands alone, in a sentence, referring to the person or subject. Am I wrong to think this?


  2. Josette, thank you. I have my grammar demons and they are fierce and merciless. At times I’m bothered by them, and especially so when I overhear some conversations of my colleagues in the staff room. The syllabus for 2nd and 3rd year students here at my department presupposes about 70% of time spent on going through the intricacies of grammar structures used in scientific writing, for the sake of correct translation Eng–> Rus mostly (read: solely). I’m happy I don’t often get to teach these courses. I’d put my knowledge of Eng into question on multiple occasions, I’m sure.. And yes, the demons would be out. And I’d struggle and get choked in those linguistic depths.
    This above could be considered as a confession.:)


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