I liked the idea of his having a rest: 'his' instead of 'him'

I liked the idea of [color=red]his having a rest

Can anybody explain to me why we should use ‘his’ instead of ‘him’ in this sentence?

Having is a gerund in this sentence. Therefore it’s a noun, so you use the possessive his before it.

If you use him, then you have something called a “small clause”, in which him is the subject (even though it’s in object case) and having is a tenseless verb. Small clauses have no tense – so any verb is in the base form or the present participle – and sometimes they have no verb at all.

You can find out more by googling the term “small clause”.

Thanks Jamie.

I totally forgot about gerunds.Have been trying to convince myself ‘having a rest’ made a noun when it was actually a small clause.

So what`s the difference between small clauses and clauses?Clauses have tense and are longer perhaps?

Small clauses have no place for an auxiliary verb. The auxiliary verb position is where tense is believed to start out, so since they have no auxiliary verb position, they have no verb tense.

Since only tensed verbs can give nominative case to the subject of a clause, this means that those tenseless verbs in the small clauses can’t give subject form to their subject, so the nouns or pronouns take object form from a verb or preposition in the next clause up. This is why you get small clauses that look like [him relaxing] in sentences like, “I saw him relaxing.”

Many small clauses also don’t have a verb at all, and can just consist of a subject and a predicate complement with no verb. That would be something like “They elected [John president],” or, “I found [the movie disturbing].”