Consider the following sentence:
'I can understand him being devastated by news like that.'
So, what's the violation of proper grammar? It's that pronoun 'him'.
Why is that grammatically incorrect?
It's the wrong case. 'Him' is an objective case pronoun. It would be fine if it were not followed by the phrase 'being devastated by news like that'; in that case it would be the direct object and thus perfectly correct. However, that phrase changes everything. (Question 9 of that 'their/they're/there' quiz [refer to post #137] touched on this.) The phrase 'being devastated by news like that' is a gerundive or participle phrase. Gerunds (the present participle or '-ing' form of a verb standing alone) and phrases that contain them function as nouns; therefore, this entire phrase is now the actual direct object of the sentence instead of the pronoun 'him'. In this sentence, 'him' is now being incorrectly used as a modifier of this gerundive direct object. The only form of a pronoun that you can use as a modifier of a noun (or a phrase that functions as a noun) is the possessive case (which functions as an adjective). Thus, the sentence should correctly read:
'I can understand his being devastated by news like that.'
...I love this stuff...
Edited by ZedU54, 26 March 2009 - 07:01 PM.