When A Gerund Is Right and When It Is Not

<p>How do you know when a gerund is correct in a sentence or not. I got the following question wrong:</p>

<p>In 1961 Rita Moreno [gained fame] and [won] an Academy Award [for her portraying] Anita in the film [adaptation of] the groundbreaking Broadway musical West Side Story. [No Error] </p>

<p>Could someone please tell me why for her portraying is incorrect. Also, when exactly is using a gerund in a sentence correct?</p>

<p>Portrayal (noun) is the correct form here.
"Her" is the possessive pronoun to attach to a noun.
However, there is something wrong, as "of" is missing: as in
"...won an AA for her portrayal OF Anita in ..."</p>

<p>Slightly weaker, but correct would be: ""...won an AA for portraying Anita...", removing the "her." The meaning is a little off, though, as it implies that she won the award for just DOING IT, not because the acting was so good.</p>

<p>But can't you say: "By his going to the movie theater"? There is a possessive pronoun " his", but that doesn't make the sentence wrong. So, I don't quite understand why "for her portraying" is incorrect.</p>

<p>The issue is not with the construct <possessive-pronoun><gerund>. That construct is grammatically correct, as is <possessive-noun><gerund>. The possessive functions as an adjective, and the gerund as a noun. There's nothing wrong with that, and so all these are valid examples:</gerund></possessive-noun></gerund></possessive-pronoun></p>

<p>my going, Bob's flying, Rodin's sculpturing, etc.</p>

<p>The problem lies not with correct grammatical use of the gerund but with the meaning of the gerund. Gerunds, derived from verbs, refers to the active-act or process. So "My going" refers to the process of going, and Rodin's sculpturing refers to the process of Rodin sculpturing. In the case of the question in #1 what is the intent -- the process of portraying or the result of that process -- i.e. the portrayal of?</p>

<p>Consider another example:</p>

<p>I am fond of Rodin's sculpturing of the Age of Bronze.
I am fond of Rodin's sculpture the Age of Bronze.</p>

<p>Each of these has a different meaning. I expect that for this example the intent of the speaker is the second -- the sculpture.</p>