1. blainelamely

    blainelamely New Member

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    he had, had... (necessary evil?)

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by blainelamely, Feb 12, 2018.

    So yea, is this incorrigible or is it fine cause I run in to it all the time.

    "He had, had a glass of water which he promptly misplaced."

    "The thought that, that had happened to him was beyond unsettling."
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    The commas are, I believe, incorrect.

    I would also try to eliminate the double word.

    He'd had a glass of water, which he promptly misplaced.
    Earlier, he had a glass of water, which he promptly misplaced.
    The thought that such a thing had happened to him was beyond unsettling.
     
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    In the second example you can lose one of the thats.

    I’ve seen authors put the two hads together like in the first example. I prefer to use a contraction for the first one: he’d had a glass of water...

    You can also rearrange: he had promptly misplaced the glass of water he had earlier that day, etc.
     
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  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Great minds...:)
     
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  5. izzybot

    izzybot Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, you definitely want to take out those commas, and while the double word isn't grammatically a problem so far as I know, it does read awkwardly so you typically want to find a way to write around it.

    The "he had had" thing can be 'fixed' by just saying "he'd had" imo -- you just want it to roll off the mental tongue easier.
     
  6. HugoHenriksen

    HugoHenriksen New Member

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    Im not English, but what about;

    He promptly misplaced the glass of water from earlier that day.

    ??
     
  7. Dragon Turtle

    Dragon Turtle Deadlier Jerry

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    Those commas give me hives.

    Agree that he'd had is great and most double thats can be eliminated... however, there have been a few times when I get a double had that can't be nicely eliminated. Like... if the character's name is Ned, it sounds icky to say "Ned'd had." Although "Ned had had" looks ridiculous. Maybe just never name characters Ned. Problem solved.

    @Steerpike has the right idea about just rearranging sentences.
     
  8. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Contributor Contributor

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    He had had too many chocolates.
    He had eaten too many chocolates.
    He'd eaten too many chocolates.

    Double had, sans comma is perfectly fine. I've seen it a few times in Historical Fiction, and moreso in Classic Lit. It's one of those things you don't notice upon hearing, "had had", but tend to stumble over while reading.
     
  9. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    he'd had
     
  10. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    I had a had had had had in one piece.

    It's good for narration before an audience, & not so effective on the page. I don't know where that write is today, but I wouldn't do it again. Write it another way, 'comedy' only.
     
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  11. Thundair

    Thundair Senior Member

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    I struggled with this also. My editor convinced me to use contractions.
    I have changed some of them to dialog to get out of the past tense.
     
  12. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    Lots of word choices and phrases are correct, grammatically, but they don't necessarily flow in a piece of writing. If something correct is also awkward and doesn't read well, find another way to say it.

    He 'had had' something doesn't usually work very well. If the contraction isn't appropriate (you want to be more formal, perhaps) you can pick another way to say it. 'He once had' might work in some circumstances. 'He just had' might work in others. 'He had owned.' And so on. 'He had survived/suffered/caught the measles.' In the case of 'had had' it might be a good idea to look for a more specific word that nails the meaning more vividly anyway. 'Had' is a wishy-washy verb compared to some other choices.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018
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  13. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    'had' is often the problem. See - just/indeed/so/and/however, include sunlight openings, dust motes, tendrils and marionette, as I've said before, marionette is hackneyed tosh worse than tendrils.
     
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  14. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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  15. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    James, while John had had "had", had had "had had"; "had had" had had a better effect on the teacher, who was not the slightest bit dyslexic.
     
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  16. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    ...what are you sniffing, my good man/dog/puppet?
     
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  17. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Am I right to think "had had" is British English and not American English by the way?

    I'm guessing it's one of those quirks of English that may actually slowly fade from existence, like the correct form "should have" :bigfrown:
     
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  18. Thundair

    Thundair Senior Member

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    Yeah, like whom. Who says that?
     
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  19. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    I doth
     
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  20. Dragon Turtle

    Dragon Turtle Deadlier Jerry

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    Unless there's some meaning of "had had" that I'm not aware of, it's definitely American English. I'm pretty sure it's found in all standard varieties of English. We're talking about the past perfect form of the verb "to have," right?
     
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  21. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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  22. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    No, I don't think it's British. I remember wrestling with this one back in high school, in the USA. I used to solve it by using the contraction OR thinking up another way to phrase the thought. 'Should have' still works just fine as well, by the way. It's just that when people say it, they usually automatically form the contraction. 'Should've.' If you were writing something other than dialogue or direct address, you'd still write 'should have.'

    But when you say 'had had' out loud it sounds awkward doesn't it? It's a simple problem. You've got two words that are spelled and sound the same, but have different meanings. The first 'had' indicates the tense, while the second 'had' is the verb itself, indicating some form of possession. If you wrote 'had cried' or 'had run' or used any other verb, the construction would sound fine and not be controversial. It's just because 'had had' are two words that look and sound exactly the same, served up back to back, that makes this an awkward—but grammatically correct—construction.
     
  23. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Thundair - I still say "whom" :bigoops: It sounds better.

    @jannert - I'm not talking about the contraction "should've" - that's fine with me. I'm referring to the fact that too many people these days have no ideas it's even supposed to be "should have" and not "should of". Should of, would of, could of, because it sounds like it is "of" only it isn't. It's only a matter of time before people forget it's supposed to be "have" instead and "should of" becomes the new "correct" form.

    Oh my word how many quote marks are there in that paragraph!?
     
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  24. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    OMG yes. Should OF. Oh, that one really grinds my teeth. Another step towards meaningless employment of language. "Of" is becoming one of those words that means whatever individuals decide it means. Bored 'of,' being another example that's crept in.
     
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  25. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think I grew up with "bored of" :D Since when was that incorrect...? And what's it supposed to be instead? Or have I just been abroad too long?

    Please don't kill me :crazy:
     
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