Hello, teachers!

- I saw a video clip of [your, you] singing, provided by your manager.

In this sentence, which is the correct choice? I thought 'singing' was a gerund, so both were correct, but someone says it is a participle and 'your' is incorrect. Is she right? Is it possible for a video clip, not "you", to sing?

Thank you very much.
Best Regards.
Original Post
It's possible to say "I saw a video clip of your singing as well as "I saw a video clip of you singing. As you discern, there is a slight difference in meaning.

"Your singing" is very correct in rules of formal English. Here, "singing" is the noun form of the verb "sing" (the gerund), and can/should be modified by an adjective, a possessive adjective: "your" in this case. Note that "your singing" might be, in other cases, "'my singing," "his singing," "her singing," "our singing " or "their singing." or "Pavarotti's singing" or "Jenny's singing," etc. Or even "this singing" or "that singing." In this sentence, the focus is on the singing.

"You singing" is also correct in your sentence, "I saw a video clip of you singing." This construction focuses on "you" and "singing" is, as you note, a present participle used to mean "as you were singing."

I think the fact that it was a video allows the singing to be considered either way "” as a completed action (gerund) or as an action in progress (participle).

A lot depends on the nature of the verb phrase. If the -ing form is perceived as a completed action it is a gerund and can be used, in formal English, with the possessive. If, on the other hand, it is perceived as depicting an action in progress, it is a participle.

Not all verbs allow the possessive + gerund. For example,

"” I saw a video clip of you laughing (not *your laughing)

"”I saw a video clip of you playing (not *your playing) with the new puppy

If it were a still photo instead of a video, the possessive would not be used at all. The -ing form would be a participle "” an action in progress.

"” I saw a photo of you singing... (not *your singing)

"” I saw a photo of you screaming at age three (not *your screaming)

"” I found an old picture of my mother cooking (not *my mother's cooking)

Likewise, an aural medium would yield

"” They discovered an audio tape of the artist talking about his work (not *the artist's' talking...)

Marilyn Martin

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