I had had, or I had?


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Thread: I had had, or I had?

  1. #1
    New Member Wandering Man's Avatar
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    I had had, or I had?

    Had had is a phrase I often use and hear in speech, such as "Mr. Cook said he had had affairs with three other women while married." I've started removing the second had (or is it the first?) in my writing: "Mr. Cook said he had affairs with three other women while married."

    A single had really seems to do the trick, but I had seen had had in a lot of different places, so I had a question about how many "hads" is too many to have.

    Any opinions as to which way is the most proper?

  2. #2
    Creative Area Specialist (Fiction) Blade's Avatar
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    I would prefer the single myself. The double is also correct technically but as far as meaning goes does not really contribute anything.

    To enforce this opinion in my own mind I just think about what a person trying to learn English would make of the double. Please have some compassion.
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  3. #3
    "Mr. Cook said he has had affairs with three other women while married."

    "Mr. Cook said he's had affairs with three other women while married."

    "Mr. Cook said he did have affairs with three other women while married."

    Just a few suggestions.
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  4. #4
    Member Red Sonja's Avatar
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    I would leave it with the two "hads" and if I didn't like the way that sounded I would change it thus: "He'd had affairs". That's a bit more colloquial and the meaning stays exactly the same.

  5. #5
    New Member Wandering Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Sonja View Post
    I would leave it with the two "hads" and if I didn't like the way that sounded I would change it thus: "He'd had affairs". That's a bit more colloquial and the meaning stays exactly the same.
    So two hads are better than one?

  6. #6
    Member Red Sonja's Avatar
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    You wouldn't believe how much difference it can make! lol But not to be a stickler. The other suggestions were valid, but if you remove a "had" it really does change the meaning ever so slightly.

    I HAVE HAD a discussion with a very picky, stickler-for-details doctor in the course of my employment more than one time. I HAD HAD an excellent, logical reason for removing the second "had" or changing to "has had," or so I had believed, but this one doctor [an english-as-second-language person, in fact] set me on the right path, or the one I chose to remain on, at any rate. The explanation involved sentence-diagramming. No, I'm not going to rehash the whole thing.

    Ultimately, the reader will only care if the meaning of the text is unclear. A "had" won't make a lot of difference.

  7. #7
    "Mr. Cook said he has had affairs with three other women while married."

    "Mr. Cook said he's had affairs with three other women while married."
    "Mr. Cook said says he has had affairs with three other women while married."

    "Mr. Cook said says he's had affairs with three other women while married."
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  8. #8
    Member dither's Avatar
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    For what it's worth, to my mind;
    " he had", in that context, suggests an attitude, a way of doing things.
    "had had", reads okay with me. ( not an expert on the technicalities ),
    i'd go for " he'd had".

    Six of one and half a dozen of the other i suppose.
    Last edited by dither; December 31st, 2015 at 09:06 PM.
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    Member TBK's Avatar
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    I think which you use depends on the narrator's diction and personality.

    "I'd walked down to the creek with Billy Lee and Johnny Nash. They was eating deer jerky out there."

    "I had had enough of New York City."

    "I had enough of New York City."

    All word choices in any sentence seem like they should be derived -- to me -- from what it is you're trying to get across. I'm a big believer in stylistic grammar choices.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by TBK View Post
    I'm a big believer in stylistic grammar choices.
    I'm the opposite. Unless you're writing dialogue, in which case the character can say things however he'd like, I'd argue it's your duty as a writer and narrator to present the story according to the rules of grammar. Omitting one of the "had"s just because you don't like how it looks is a poor practice, particularly when (as others have said), it does change the meaning of the sentence.
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