General Writing and Grammar Help/use of


QUESTION: Is "was" necessary before "odd" in the following sentence? Also, I used "was being" because this took place many years ago. I'm not sure if that is correct, though.

I thought it odd that I was being so particular.

Martha, how about this....
I thought it odd that I was so particular.
I thought it was odd that I was so particular.

ANSWER: Either is correct.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks very much.  How about "being?"  I recall reading something about gerunds.  After checking various grammar books, I'm still confused on the use of "being" as in my first example above.  It is wrong to use that or just not necessary?  Thans!

The dog was being rowdy.
=Being= is a participle.  It is part of the verb.

Dog was.


The dog's being rowdy caused the cat to run away.
=Being= is a gerund in this case.  It's an -ing word, but it functions as a noun. In this case, it's also the subject.

Being caused.

The state of the dog caused something:
The state of the dog (being rowdy) caused the cat to run away.

Whenever you have an -ing word that is not the participle portion of a two-word verb, it is a gerund and therefore requires possessive case.

The high-falutin' way of stating the rule is "genitive before a gerund," with =genitive= meaning "possessive/belonging to."


Many, many people do not use possessive case with a gerund.  Lucky you:  you do!  Rock on.

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Martha Beth Lewis


I will answer questions having to do with grammar, plurals, punctuation, capitalization, mood, person, tense, and so on, as well as word usage and word choice. If you want a quick answer to a specific question, particularly if you wish to use formal American English for business or academic purposes (MLA), I can give you a timely response. I also can address word choice, clarity, structure, and similar concerns involving English as a second language. If you want advice of a deeper editorial nature (e.g., substantive [line] editing), please consult an Expert who offers this sort of assistance; I do not offer this sort of assistance.


I was employed as an editor for the graduate school at a major U.S. university and specialized in dissertations. I have over 200 publications in professional journals, consumer magazines, and newspapers. I am the author of five books and numerous syllabi in an arts field. I also am a freelance line editor, copy editor, and proofreader (over 40 years), and I have written or edited countless community organizations' newsletters and promotional materials.

Note: When using a word as a word in a sentence, such as: Put a period after the word dog, =dog= should be set in italics. Since I do not have access to italics here, I shall use = on either side of the word or phrase that properly should appear in italics. For the above example: Put a period after the word =dog=. Also, ~~please do not mark your questions as private~~. I will change them to public because I don't want to type the same answer twice! Thanks for your understanding.

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