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had had Options
D00M
Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 9:44:18 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/24/2017
Posts: 1,607
Neurons: 7,645
Hello respected teachers,

There was a thin quality about his voice that she had heard only rarely, each occasion so long ago it was astonishing she remembered it. Or Was her 'remembering' nothing but fancy? Once when he had had to tell her that her mother had 'gone away' and would not be back, and later when he had left her at boarding school for the first time of her life. With the thinness his diction became coarse.

Is the underlined grammatical in the above please?

How would the meaning change were it "he had to tell"?

The custom of speaking is the original and only just standard of any language. Joseph Priestly- Rudiments of EG, 1761.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 9:56:56 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 30,665
Neurons: 182,122
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
"Had had" is correct.

The first "had" is the auxiliary verb, and the second 'had to' is the main verb for the past perfect (the same tense as the second clause "he had left her at boarding school").

"He had to tell her" just doesn't work, because the listening to his voice is already in the past - and then she's remembering even further into the past.

So his having to tell her was in the past at that time in the past - a double-past.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
D00M
Posted: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 10:13:27 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 3/24/2017
Posts: 1,607
Neurons: 7,645
Thank you for the thorough and clear answer, DS.

The custom of speaking is the original and only just standard of any language. Joseph Priestly- Rudiments of EG, 1761.
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