I appreciate you or your taking the time to meet me?


Here’s something I bet you never knew was controversial: “I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me.”

Yes, language sticklers might have a problem with that, even though you need an advanced degree in English Rules That Aren’t Rules to understand why. Still, this form, called a “fused participle” by some, is an interesting quirk in the language.

The issue with this sentence is the word “you.” The writer could have easily used “your” in its place. That would have preempted any raised eyebrows.

But a lot of people would automatically opt for “you” here, creating a problem that’s best explained by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage: “From the middle of the 18th century to the present time,” the usage guide writes, “grammarians and other commentators have been baffled by the construction. They cannot parse it, they cannot explain it.”

For an easy shortcut to avoiding this whole hornet's nest, just use "your" or another possessive form. For a big-picture understanding of fused participles and the alternative, the possessive with gerund, see my recent column.


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