I had one more "had" than you have:
Jane, while John had had 'had,' had had 'had had;' 'had had' had had a better effect on the professor.
In other words, I, while you had had "had had 'had had'; 'had had' had," had had "had had 'had,' had had 'had had;' 'had had' had had;" "had had 'had,' had had 'had had;' 'had had' had had" had had "had" many more times in a row.
Now that sentence has thirty-six "had"s in a row. And it describes something that actually happened!
Both of them are past tense. There's no functional difference, except that one is valid and the other isn't. It's bad English to repeat words unnecessarily, and since there's always a way to phrase your sentences to avoid these... There's no valid excuse for it to ever occur.
They invited me to dinner, but I had (past perfect) eaten (past participle) already. (To eat is a verb so it can be conjugated to eaten)
With the same token:
They invited me to breakfast, but I had (past perfect) had (past participle) breakfast already. (breakfast is a noun so you need to add 'have' to use it as a verb, just like 'problems')
The English here confuses some people because it uses two 'had's next to each other. It is easier to see the grammar if you choose a different verb, for example. 'finish': 'I had finished hiding the evidence before the police arrived.' (You would not say 'I have finished hiding the evidence before the police arrived'.) Now a similar sentence using 'have' as the main verb as well as the helping verb: 'I had not had time to hide the evidence before the police arrived'. (Notice that there are two 'had's in the second sentence, one main, one helping.) Now take the second sentence and make it positive: 'I had had time to hide the evidence before the police arrived.'
The construction is (nearly) the same in both languages. In English it is called the past perfect, in Italian the trapassato prossimo. It is formed by combining the past tense of "to have" = "avere" with the past participle of a verb:
He had eaten. = Lui aveva mangiato.
The past participle (participio passato) of "avere" is "avuto." But both the past participle and the past tense of "to have" are "had." That is what makes it look like something different is going on in Italian and English.
(Note: I said "nearly" the same because in Italian the particular past tense of "avere" used is the imperfetto. Also, intransitive verbs form the trapassato prossimo with "essere" instead of "avere." But I was trying to keep things simple.)
A good question, as it looks like English just uses the same word twice! But those two
hads actually have quite different functions.
The oldest Germanic words in English differentiated between the simple past and the past particle.
tookvs. He has
sawvs. He has
ranvs. He has
While some of these historic words have retained their original conjugation, the new words that came into the language (a lot from Latin Greek roots) were much simpler, and soon even some of the old Germanic words had their conjugations simplified.
exchangedvs. He has
cookedvs. He has
playedvs. He has
Have is one of those ancient verbs that has been simplified in recent centuries, leading to:
hadvs. He has
So, in "He had had", what you have is the simple past (as an auxiliary) followed by the past participle. Two different forms of the verb, but they have evolved to look and sound the same!
In Middle English it would have been
He hadde yhad!
"He has had some problems" is the present perfect. It refers to his problems during some time period extending to the present time, right now:
- Yes he has had some problems getting the work done, but he will try harder from now on.
But the Italian sentence "Lui aveva avuto dei problemi" is in the trapassato prossimo which refers to an action completed before some time or event in the past. The corresponding tense in English is the past perfect, which is formed by combining "had" (the past tense of "to have") with the past participle of another verb. For example,
- "She had walked all the way to work by the time he woke up."
Since the past participle of "to have" is also "had," we end up with "had had." Here is an example using the past perfect once and the present perfect twice:
Before the radioactive bee stung him, he had had some problems getting the work done. Since that fateful sting, he has had no problem at all. The past six months have been the most productive of his life.
In English, when talking about an action that was completed before some event in the past, we use the past perfect tense. To form it, combine the word "had" (the past tense of "to have") with the past participle of a verb. For example, the past participle of "to eat" is "eaten":
- When the dessert arrived, he didn't want it anymore. He had eaten too much already.
Now, the past participle of "to have" is also "had." The same word as the past tense. So when we form the past perfect of "to have" we end up with "had had":
- He couldn't sleep last night because he had had six cups of coffee before going to bed.
Note: Often, but not always, you can use the simple past "had" instead of "had had" without significantly changing the meaning of a sentence:
- He couldn't sleep last night because he had six cups of coffee before going to bed.
That sentence is still correct and tells essentially the same story.
I agree. It seems to be difficult even for native English speakers, but there are many people here, who speak different native languages than English.
If they would desire to dive down to the deepest multiple had mysteries of the English language they would probably take an English course and not an Italian course. Since there is still no [fill in the native language here]-Italian course, it would be nice if DL would take the situation of those members into consideration and start with sentences like those ION1122 gave as examples. Once this is mastered they can create a "had had" skill four inches further down on the pages.
The effort wasted on a sentences like that, in addition with delusive drop down menus, sometimes truly lousy audio and the desperate attempt to find answers in the discussions often eat up the whole time unit and more, that I scheduled for a certain time of a day or for a whole skill, which is demotivating and far from my understanding of "fun".
Sorry, but is it too much to ask for some tips on this lecture? I know, trapassato prossimo is no big deal, but even if most of us learn grammar from other sources, it would be nice to put at least some basic information about major grammatical categories. Duolingo would be even better with more grammar.
As Sim_Bee said, "had had" (past perfect) and "had been having" (past perfect progressive) yield similar meanings in this case. The progressive adds the idea his problems had continued for some period of time. But "had had" is the better translation because the English past perfect corresponds exactly to the Italian trapassato prossimo, which is the tense of the sentence we are translating.
Scotty, if for some reason you don't like "he had had", you can always subsititute "he'd had", which one hears all the time. But drop the idea that you should replace "had had" with the past perfect progressive, which is not the same thing and which is not a good translation of the Italian we are given here.
Same as the English past perfect -- to describe an event that took place at a point in the past prior to some other point in the past.
For example, "He had hidden the body before the police arrived." The arrival of the police is an event in the past, and the hiding of the body is an event that takes place even farther in the past.
"He had had some problems ever since his mother died, but last Wednesday his therapy led to a breakthrough."
The DL exercises are a bit artificial in that they usually mention only the remoter (farther past) event, and not the more recent past event against which the more remote event is being contrasted.
As you will see from the many comments on this page, had had is a perfectly correct and widely used use of the verb 'to have'. 'He'd had', as you say, is more widely used in spoken english and IS a contraction of 'he had had'. 'He had' is a completely different tense with a different meaning. I agree with you about the over-use of 'got'!
It sounds like some people need to take English grammar before learning a foreign language. Especially now with social media and even newspapers using wrong grammar. People used to read literature (the teal thing, not Dan Brown) to learn proper usage. I could howl out of frustration .. hey i didn't use a single tpr or pp..
has had is common had had is not. Avere imperfetto is Avevo, Avevi, Aveva, Avevamo, vate, vano. with verbs that use avere as auxiliary. Ero, eri, era, eravamo, eravate, erano is tough and used with PP of motion, etc. This conjugation had been studying, swimming, had left (already) had read .
So, when imperfect of avere, ave- + vo, vi, va, vamo, etd This is had + that verb's past tense = . The past tense of avere , present has, is had. So with the imperfect form of avere must be "had" and the past tense must be "had." Just like any other past tense verb (formed by PP) = HAD left, studied, read, jumped, etc.
I don't think it has a better ring. It has a completely different function in the sentence. Having said that I think colloquially the 'had had' or in general the past perfect is often omitted if the order of event's context is clear, e.g. 'He had breakfast before he went to school.' ( simple past + simple past) is often used instead of the grammatically correct 'He had had breakfast before he went to school.' (past perfefect + simple past)
However, if I was recounting the events in a newspaper article, to the police or in an English exam ;-) , I would use the past perfect + simple past version 'He had had breakfast before he went to school.'
Going back to the 'has had' (present perfect). Whereas, the 'had had' event (past perfect) ends in the past before another event takes place, the 'has had' starts in the past but is still relevant to now and following events are still waiting to happen (1) / or will/might never happen (2) e.g. 'He has had breakfast so he can go to school.'(1)
Hope this helps! I've written far more than I intended to.(2)
Not too long at all.. it is a difficult concept for non-native (and a lot of native) speakers to grasp and your explanation is full and clear. As for writing for newspapers - I am not sure they ALL would want past perfect+simple past - especially the ones that seem to have a style guide that dictate no more than six words to a sentence! :)
As you will see from the MANY comments here, 'had had' does exist in english and is absolutely correct. In general spoken use it often becomes 'he'd had'. Have you never said something like 'he needed a glass of wine because he'd had a bad day at the office'? - that is 'had had'.
That's a different tense. Consider the sentences
- When I applied for this one I had had several jobs
- When I applied for this one I had several jobs
Would you say they're equivalent? To me, the second one means that I had those jobs at the same time at that point in time, because all events are in the same tense; the point of past perfect is to place one of the events earlier than the other.
Although I like the fact that you know how to use it and categorize it, that is not the correct explanation.
When we use the present perfect, we are talking about "owning" a complete action in terms of the PRESENT.
E.g., I have watched every single Star Wars movie.
It doesn't matter if it has happened recently or not - in fact, I watched them for the first time when I was 9. What matters is that I "own" the action in terms of the present.
Now, when I say "I had watched every single episode of The Simpsons up to their 10th season" it means that I owned that completed action - watching all the episodes - at a point in the PAST, therefore I use the PAST Perfect. Saying "I have watched all the episodes" would be Present Perfect and it would be wrong, due to the fact that I DO NOT "own" that action in terms of the present, but rather I "owned" it at a point in the past.
I hope that helps you understand it! As a language teacher I had always found that even my most advanced students struggled with it before they met me. If it is still unclear, I recommend drawing a timeline! It always helps :) Cheers!
That's right, so it's Past Perfect. What I tried to explain above is that we don't choose Past v. Present Perfect if an action happened a while ago v. recently, but rather if the moment when that action is completed is a moment in the past or present.
E.g.: "I HAVEn't had lunch" means that at THIS MOMENT I do not "own" the action of eating lunch so it's PRESENT Perfect.
"I HADn't had lunch when we met" means that at the moment we met, in the PAST, I didn't "own" the action of eating lunch, so I use PAST Perfect.
I believe that (for whatever reason) some people are confused about saying "had had" - in fact, I use it too and I get wrongfully corrected before explaining why it is correct. The first had would be aveva (imperfect) while the second one would be avuto (past participle), both forming the tense known as trasspasatto prossimo (past perfect)
so had owned is the correct translation because many native English speaker do not use HAD HAD twice ...but anyway aveva avuto are two different words just like HAD OWNED .....in English we do use HAD for OWNED but we would never use HAD HAD same word twice as using HAD HAD , the same word twice would come across as sloppy spoken English so we would use had owned . ......so anyway I wonder if the correct true translation is Had owned .........I believe avuto is ownership had and aveva is a state of the past ......is that correct