Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Have you heard people use “your” where you felt like “you” belonged?

The way that you talk about things that happened, whether past or present, can be very confusing.

Today we’re looking at a concept that can be a bit confusing even to natives.

It takes patience and practice, but you will see which option to use to sound more natural in your conversations.

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We have a letter from a listener about a specific grammar related issue.

Hi Lindsay, Michelle, Jessica, and Aubrey!

It’s been years now that I’ve been listening to your awesome podcast, and I learn something every day. It allows me to refine my English, which is crucial to me!

Since the English Immersion in Boston with Lindsay and Jessica, which is still one of my best experiences in the US, I was able to complete a Master’s Degree and I got my American Citizenship a couple months ago. Woohoo!

My question is very specific and grammar-oriented. I noticed around me and in movies or TV shows that sometimes, people use the structure “I + Verb + Possessive + Gerund + Complement.” A good example is “I appreciate your coming to my place.” This is very different than the structure that I would have used, “I appreciate that you came to my place.” Is there any nuance between the two sentences, or is mine incorrect?

I would appreciate your giving me an answer!

Thank you again for your great work!


Looking At A Very Advanced Concept In English

This is a great question, and it also happens to be very advanced.

The truth is that most natives may not even know the answer to this question.

This is one of those questions a native speaker may even be asked, or at least be confused about in their head!

It’s no wonder that this can be a confusing concept, because even natives may not fully understand it or know how to use it properly.

So what’s the answer?

We will go over some of the basics today, not the nitty nitty gritty because that can get a bit overwhelming.

Today we are going to discuss more of the meaning and what knowing the answer means for your life in English. 

How To Use This In Conversation

The question raises a good point which is how you actually say something in conversation.

In the example, “your” is right however conversationally, people say both.

For formal situations and writing, it is more important to consider which is correct. 

People tend to use these interchangeably for the most part.

If there is a difference, it is extremely small and the speaker wouldn’t likely be choosing to use one or the other for any specific person.

However it can help to look at the difference so that you know which option may work best in each situation.

  • I appreciate YOUR coming to my place vs. I appreciate what you DID.
  • I appreciate YOU coming to my place vs. I specifically appreciate YOU.
  • I appreciate that you came to my place can work just fine too!

In a way, it seems pretty conversational, and so you have to ask yourself is it grammatically correct?

Listen for it, see how others use it, and then go with the option that works best for you in that specific conversation.

Useful Examples To Help Show How This Works

This is one of those concepts where you will find it works well to just look at examples to see what works best.

We’re going to look at some examples so that you can see how this works and which may work best in each individual situation.

Let’s start with an example where we can compare and contrast how you would say it in different ways or situations.

  • “I appreciate your swimming in the correct area.” You could also say “I appreciate that you swam in the correct area” though this sounds more like it happened in the past. The best option may be “I appreciate you swimming in the correct area.”

The idea is that what you appreciate is the act the person did, which was the nice thing, which is coming over.

That’s where the focus is, so you would use your emphasis on that.

Think of it in this example– “My friend’s dancing is amazing.”

In this example it’s possessive, and you wouldn’t say “my friend dancing is amazing.”

If you did then the entire meaning would be different.

You might feel funny saying “your” in conversations, which goes to show you that what is correct may not always be what is natural sounding–that’s important to remember as well!

Let’s do some more examples so that you can really start to see and appreciate how this works and which option will be best in conversation.

  • “We should celebrate your winning the award.” Look at this as opposed to “We should celebrate that you won the award.”
  • “She dislikes his wasting so much food.” You could say this or you could opt for “She dislikes that he wasted so much food.” This option sounds like it happened in the past though, so be careful with that.
  • “Please excuse my sleeping during the meeting.” A better option may be “Please excuse me FOR sleeping during the meeting.” If it feels or sounds awkward, then it’s probably not the right choice and you want to go with what sounds more natural.

You will start to get the hang of this as you play around with different examples, and you will even be able to hear what works best.

The Important Thing To Keep In Mind

When in doubt, you want to have a couple of things to remember.

If you can keep these things in mind, then you will know exactly which option to use in conversation.

So the main thing to keep in mind is the following:

  1. Think of the grammar in the situation you are in.
  2. Think of how and when you are using this–does it matter? Is it conversational? Is it in your writing? 

These are the things to keep in mind that can ensure that you choose the right one.

It can be a difficult concept at first, but with some practice it will become much easier and more routine to you.

These are the topics that even natives struggle with, so be patient with yourself as you learn.


This is tricky, and it’s okay if you’re not sure initially!

We barely scratched the surface, but at least we gave you a basic idea.

When are you using it and why?

Observe what people use, and also see what sounds right or appropriate to you.

Don’t let this trip you up or make you nervous, just take your time with it.

We gave you some basic ideas today, so now it’s up to you to practice it and get into making this a regular part of your conversations.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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