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I'm on the fence about apostrophe or not in the following sentence. The possessive is not coming immediately before a noun or gerund; however, the English does belong to the gentleman. I realize a noun can show ownership to a noun that may have an adjective in front of the noun, e.g., man's best friend. I know "speaking" is a participle = adjective, but the adverb, not, thrown in the mix is causing me to wonder if the apostrophe belongs or not. The substitution tricks and/or flipping to test, don't seem to work. One minute I am ready to leave the apostrophe; then next, it doesn't sound or feel correct.
The sentence is as follows:
Due to the gentleman's not speaking English and the difficulty to communicate adequately with the patient, the patient was. . blah, blah. Does the apostrophe with gentleman stay or leave. Doc says the "s"; I have to decide if I need to edit or not. Your help will be greatly appreciated. TIA--JJ

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    Yes, you need a possessive -- not only when a noun "owns" another noun, but also when the noun comes before a gerund.

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    http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/gerunds.htm#possessive

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    Thank you Writeacher! Did I "goof" thinking that "speaking" is a participle/adj modifying English? TIA-JJ

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    The word "speaking" is a gerund, a verbal noun form. "English" is that gerund's direct object. (Since it's a verb form, it can have a direct object.)

    Nothing about gerunds is easy!!

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    Ah Ha! Nothing about MT is easy--LOL! I have to laugh at myself; since I started MT I feel like my years of background in both grammar and copy editing have had the rug pulled from underneath, causing me to have mono conversations that feel like they may need RX at times--LOL! I'll be okay. Thank you so much and have a blessed evening; I am going to go do some "no-brainer" filing for a bit. JJ

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    Another bell just rang. Apostrophe "s" means "his" in the old English, so with substituting "his," my light bulb confirms your answer. The gentleman's--his speaking. Oy Vey! Where was my head. . . .Onward, now! Thank you, again!

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    Yes, good connection you made!

    This index is a terrific place to look up grammar and usage terms that you need explanations for:
    http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/index2.htm

    This is, to me, the best grammar website out there!

    And... you're very welcome.

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    Oh My! I was at that site a couple of times tonight and earlier this week. That's where I began my argument with the apostrophe and got twisted thinking that "speaking" was a participle, and as you can see, I got tangled. I have bookmarked with seeing your recommendation! Thank you very much! Have a wonderful weekend! JJ

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    Thanks, JJ -- you, too!

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