phrase correction

Me discussing this topic in detail helps the students understand the lesson.
My discussing this topic in detail helps the students understand the lesson.

Which one of the two sentences is grammatically correct? I would be grateful if you also discussed the rule in brief.

Comments

  • @mnahid89, this is a very formal written sentence, so my is stylistically better. In another style, it can be better to use me.

    I'm not sure I can be brief, but I'll try to be clear and simple.

    Let's start by simplifying the sentence:

    This discussion helps the students to understand the lesson.

    The words this discussion make up the SUBJECT of the CLAUSE. We can also use them in different ways.

    I always enjoy this discussion. — DIRECT OBJECT in a CLAUSE
    You should give this discussion your attention. — INDIRECT OBJECT in a CLAUSE
    about this discussion — in a PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE

    It's not the noun discussion that does these jobs; it's the two words together this discussion. In modern grammar, this is called a NOUN PHRASE.

    We make sentences carry more information by substituting something more complicated instead of a NOUN PHRASE. Often we substitute something which is like a CLAUSE.

    For example
    discussing this topic in detail
    is like the CLAUSE
    Somebody discusses this topic in detail

    Similarly,
    to discuss this topic in detail
    is like the same CLAUSE
    Somebody discusses this topic in detail

    Modern grammars use the term NON-FINITE CLAUSE for both discussing this topic in detail and to discuss this topic in detail.

    NON-FINITE CLASSES like this can do all the jobs in a CLAUSE that NOUN PHRASES (although not often INDIRECT OBJECT). For example

    SUBJECT
    Discussing this topic in detail will be a long exercise
    To discuss this topic in detail will be a long exercise

    DIRECT OBJECT
    We enjoy discussing this topic in detail
    We plan to discuss this topic in detail

    The ing- CLAUSE can also be used in a PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE
    about discussing this topic in detail

    [Old-fashioned grammars use the term GERUND for this use of -ing forms. I don't like the term, but use it if it helps you to remember.]

    Now your sentence presents a problem because the NON-FINITE -ing CLAUSE is like this
    I discuss the topic in detail
    This clause has a SUBJECT — I — so how do we reflect this in the -ing clause?

    Old-fashioned grammars said that we must always use a POSSESSIVE form — in this case the word my. But nowadays this is often not true.

    • When the -ing clause is a DIRECT OBJECT or in a PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE, it's formal and rather old-fashioned to use POSSESSIVE my.

    They don't mind me discussing this topic in detail
    about me discussing this topic in detail

    It's also possible to use my in these examples. But we're less likely to use the POSSESSIVe form of a name.

    They don't mind John discussing this topic in detail
    about John discussing this topic in detail

    Not many people would say or write

    They don't mind John's discussing this topic in detail
    about John's discussing this topic in detail

    Your example is different because the -ing CLAUSE is a SUBJECT

    It looks wrong in writing to see the OBJECT PRONOUN me before the VERB. In informal speech, we can make an -ing CLAUSE starting with me sound OK.

    Me discussing this topic in detail wasn't a great idea

    This unusual, and not something you should copy in formal writing. But with a NAME or a NOUN PHRASE, I think it's acceptable.

    John discussing this topic in detail helped the students to understand the lesson
    The teacher discussing this topic in detail helped the students to understand the lesson

  • Thanks for your explanation. It was so detailed and much helpful. @DavidCrosbie

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