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1

Is this correct? Can "your cooking" be used as a noun? The more I read it, the weirder it sounded to me.

Simplify it by removing the modifier. Cooking made me happy makes sense, right? – Matthew Read – 2015-02-15T03:22:48.977

2@MatthewRead But the default interpretation of that would be that my cooking made me happy. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2015-02-15T14:37:06.463

"wierd" is the internet spelling of "weird". Please fix it. For some weird reason, editing requires changing of at least six characters and I don't want to make any other changes. – gnasher729 – 2015-02-16T08:54:11.307

22

Yes, it is grammatical.

Interestingly, "your cooking" can mean either "the food you made" or "the fact that you cooked."

So, for instance:

"Everything you made for the care package was delicious. The food brought me great comfort during the stress of exams. Your cooking made me happy."

vs.

"I know it was a big deal for you to take the time away from your job to do this dinner. It means a lot to me that you did all the cooking personally. Your cooking made me happy."

7

It does sound a bit weird to my (American) ear, but not for grammatical reasons. The "-ing" form of a verb can be used as a noun. This "noun" form is called a "gerund".

I can imagine the example sentence being used in a scenario like this:

Older mother: Looking back, what did you enjoy as a child?

If the conversation were between a man and a woman he was courting, or between a husband and wife, I would not expect this sentiment to be expressed the same way. A statement in the present tense would make more sense, like:

or

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.

or a woman might say

Someone needs to write a book On the Care and Feeding of Boyfriends.

I also know families where the father does much of the cooking. In those families, I can imagine a child someday telling her father, "Your cooking made me happy."

To a Dutch ear it sounds natural. The example with present tense would actually sound weird to me, as it sounds like it's stating a fact instead of an event. – Stephan Bijzitter – 2015-02-15T20:43:45.773

@StephanBijzitter: it is stating a fact; the fact that when you cook for me, it makes me happy. (Or perhaps the fact that your cooking is so good that the food makes me happy.) If I was talking about a particular instance rather than an ongoing circumstance, it would have to be "Your cooking today made me happy". (Sorry, I don't know why; it just sounds wrong without the extra word.) – Harry Johnston – 2015-02-15T23:07:49.470

5

The -ing form of a verb may indeed be deployed as a noun (when this happens we call the -ing form a gerund), and play the same syntactic roles as any other noun. In those roles it may still take the same sorts of complement it takes as a verb, and it may take either adjectives or adverbs as modifiers.

Cooking rice is boring.
I love my mother, but her atrocious cooking drove me from home.
I must thank Cedric for heroically cooking such an enormous meal on such short notice.

4

The sentence

is grammatical.

But the problem is the cooking in contemporary (American) English can refer either to

(a) the act of cooking

(b) the result of cooking

In the sentence you've made I would think it means (a), or to reword it:

That you cooked for me made me happy

OR

That you always cook[ed] for me made me happy

If you want to express the other meaning, then I would say:

I was happy to eat the food you made

OR