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Swami108
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 3:28:35 AM

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We have had to change the subject of discussion.

Does this mean:
1)We had to change the subject (we were forced to do so in past.)
2)We have changed the subject before (under compulsion), many times.

Can anyone elaborate the actual/precise(considering my ESL status) meaning of this sentence?
thar
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 4:05:51 AM

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1

the verb is "to have to" meaning "must", "be forced to".
present tense would be
We must change the subject
or
We have to change the subject.

since you cannot have a past tense of "must", you use the past tense of 'to have to'.

since the tense chosen is the present perfect, the construction is
"we have had to"
so
We have had to change the subject of discussion.

meaning
we have been forced to change the subject of discussion.

it gives no information about the number of times, that may be one or many.

edit - I like the signature quote Applause
Shivanand
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 4:12:45 AM
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Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Your option #1 is more suitable. This means that you have been forced to change ...... The sentence is in the present perfect tense (have to/have had to..)

Cheers!

Edit: thar has taken the cake away!Sick Sick
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 4:22:54 AM

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Location: Helsinki, Southern Finland Province, Finland
Even the phrase "We have changed the subject before" doesn't tell if it occurred once or more, unless you add that ", many times." in the end.
Swami108
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 6:44:13 AM

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Location: Delhi, NCT, India
Thanks allApplause .
It is still confusing me though.
Second option looks more suitable to me, it gives a sense of a recent past, while the first is in reference to a distant time in past.
Comment!
Brick wall

(Forget the 'many times' thing)
Swami108
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 6:47:26 AM

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Joined: 6/9/2012
Posts: 36
Neurons: 603
Location: Delhi, NCT, India
thar wrote:
1

the verb is "to have to" meaning "must", "be forced to".
present tense would be
We must change the subject
or
We have to change the subject.

since you cannot have a past tense of "must", you use the past tense of 'to have to'.

since the tense chosen is the present perfect, the construction is
"we have had to"
so
We have had to change the subject of discussion.

meaning
we have been forced to change the subject of discussion.

it gives no information about the number of times, that may be one or many.

edit - I like the signature quote Applause


Thanks thar, for reading the quote. It helps me asking silly questions.
Swami108
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 11:23:26 AM

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Joined: 6/9/2012
Posts: 36
Neurons: 603
Location: Delhi, NCT, India
Thanks all .
It is still confusing me though.
Second option looks more suitable to me, it gives a sense of a recent past, while the first is in reference to a distant time in past.
Comment!


(Forget the 'many times' thing)
excaelis
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 12:12:51 PM

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
'...have had to...' gives me the impression that the discussion is still continuing, whereas '...had to...' seems to indicate that the discussion is now over.

leonAzul
Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 3:26:08 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
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Location: Miami, Florida, United States
ashish_schekon wrote:
We have had to change the subject of discussion.

Does this mean:
1)We had to change the subject (we were forced to do so in past.)
2)We have changed the subject before (under compulsion), many times.

Can anyone elaborate the actual/precise(considering my ESL status) meaning of this sentence?

The verb "to have" has several meanings, and these examples involve two of them.

The idiom "to have to" is a common substitute for the auxiliary verb "must," and is necessary to express the tenses that are missing in the conjugation of "must." Example #1 expresses such compulsion in the past tense.

Additionally, "have" can function as an auxiliary verb that indicates perfection, also called a perfect tense. This is how it works in sentence #2. It does not express compulsion at all.

If you want to express compulsion in the present perfect, then you would write: "We have had to change the subject before."

Swami108
Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013 5:11:05 AM

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Joined: 6/9/2012
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Location: Delhi, NCT, India
leonAzul wrote:
ashish_schekon wrote:
We have had to change the subject of discussion.

Does this mean:
1)We had to change the subject (we were forced to do so in past.)
2)We have changed the subject before (under compulsion), many times.

Can anyone elaborate the actual/precise(considering my ESL status) meaning of this sentence?

The verb "to have" has several meanings, and these examples involve two of them.

The idiom "to have to" is a common substitute for the auxiliary verb "must," and is necessary to express the tenses that are missing in the conjugation of "must." Example #1 expresses such compulsion in the past tense.

Additionally, "have" can function as an auxiliary verb that indicates perfection, also called a perfect tense. This is how it works in sentence #2. It does not express compulsion at all.

If you want to express compulsion in the present perfect, then you would write: "We have had to change the subject before."



Thanks LA.
Your justification is undestandable.
"We have had to change the subject before."
I would translate this as: We changed the subject, recently, under force.
leonAzul
Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013 11:02:52 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/2011
Posts: 8,589
Neurons: 31,151
Location: Miami, Florida, United States
You are welcome.

ashish_schekon wrote:

"We have had to change the subject before."
I would translate this as: We changed the subject, recently, under force.


That's very good.

As a vocabulary note, "under force" does not sound natural in English. The more common way to say it is "under compulsion," and that sounds very formal.

A more typical way to say it would be: "We were forced to change the subject recently," or more formally, "We were compelled to change the subject recently."
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013 12:42:42 AM

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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
One could always say:
"We have changed the subject of discussion, because we had to."

"We have changed the subject of discussion, of necessity."
Swami108
Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013 4:40:33 AM

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Joined: 6/9/2012
Posts: 36
Neurons: 603
Location: Delhi, NCT, India
Thanks dragon!
Your first example:
"We have changed the subject of discussion, because we had to."
suits my understanding.
Applause
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013 7:18:04 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 34,531
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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom

That's good!

I just noticed, it still uses the 'have' and the 'had', but they are separated, which shows the two different uses of the same verb, as thar said.
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