Using “Had Had” as a Verb


Question: The Bills had had a great season. Is this correct and what type of verb is “had had”?

Answer: Yes 

Yes. “Had had” is acceptable if it means what you are trying to say. Here’s why. 

“Had had” is the past perfect tense of “have.” You use the past perfect tense when you need to indicate that something occurred before another previous event

For example, let’s say you went fishing yesterday. You arrived at your favorite fishing hole at 4:00 a.m. Your arrival is a past event. Let’s also say that someone got there before you did and caught all the fish. The action of someone catching all the fish occurred before the past event of you arriving. To describe all the fish getting caught before you got there (the event before the past event), you use the past perfect tense. You would write “Someone had caught all the fish before I arrived.” 

With the past perfect tense, you use the past tense of “have” plus the past participle. In this example, you use the past tense of “have,” (i.e., “had”) plus the past participle of “catch” (i.e., “caught”). This gives you “had caught.” 

Now, let’s apply this to your sentence. Let’s say you are describing the playoff game that occurred last year. That is a past event. The Bills were having a great season before the playoff game; it occurred before the past event of the playoff game. You use the past perfect to describe this. 

With the past perfect, you use the past tense verb “had” plus a past participle. In this case, you use the past participle of “have,” which is “had.” This gives you “had had.” It looks funny because they are the same word, but it is correct. 

Here are your options for the sample sentence. 

If you mean the Bills had a great season before some other past event, then you can use “had had” = “The Bills had had a great season.” 

On the other hand, if you mean the Bills had a great season up to NOW, then you use the present perfect: “have had” = “The Bills have had a great season.” 

However, if you mean the Bills had a great season last year in general, not before some other event but overall, you can use the simple past tense: “had” = “The Bills had a great season.” 

Once you figure out what you are trying to say, choose the correct verb tense.

About these ads

2 Comments

Filed under Writing

2 responses to “Using “Had Had” as a Verb

  1. Jessie

    Very helpful! Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s