Author Topic: Grammar and the word "had"  (Read 1888 times)

Max_with_word_processor

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Grammar and the word "had"
« on: October 30, 2011, 11:30:51 AM »
Is it acceptable or preferred to leave the word "had" out of these sentences? This is all past tense, but sometimes the word "had" feels redundant. Please tell me what you think.


1. The government had sponsored the project.

2. But for today’s rally we had put up signs.

3. I stared at the man as if he had appeared from nowhere.

4. If you had read his book, you would know that he can’t spell.

5. I had always intended to be polite.

6. How many days I had spent practicing…

7. No one had ever asked me to sing.


Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2011, 11:44:18 AM »
Wow that's a good one. In the first 5 I would say yes, nix them.
In number 6, I would transpose the words, 'I' and 'Had' of course leaving had in play.
And in 7 I would leave it.

Am I right? // Excuse me; this is grammar. "Am I correct?"

Skip
« Last Edit: October 30, 2011, 11:50:48 AM by Skip Slocum »
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Offline mudge

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2011, 12:29:06 PM »
It's possible to not use had in all of the sentences, unless you want to write in the past tense.   :)
It all depends on how formal you wish to be grammatically, I suppose. 

#2 is a sentence fragment.

The government sponsored the project.
We put up signs for today's rally.
I stared at the man as if he appeared from nowhere.
You would know he can’t spell from reading his book.
I always intend to be polite.
I practiced many days.
No one ever asks me to sing.
You know that little indestructible black box that is used on planes, why can\'t they make the whole plane out of the same substance?

Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2011, 12:47:51 PM »
That's the thing about writing in past tense, you want to make the reader feel like he/she are living the events as
they unfold, but you're still telling what happened. The word 'had' should be used as little as possible, mostly only to
trigger a flashback. When someone (in the past) refers to a moment before the one they find themselves in. It's a bit
tricky in narrative, but most characters don't use it in dialogue.

To really know what is correct in your sentences, you need to look at the entire paragraph of text surrounding it.
Hope it makes sense.
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Tony_A20

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2011, 01:45:17 PM »
Hello Max,

Without looking it up, the deciding factor when using auxiliary verbs to express the past tense depends upon what meaning is desired.

The government had sponsored the project.

This sentence is written in the perfect past tense. It means the sponsorship was in the past, and ceased in the past.

The government did sponsor the project.

This sentence is written in the imperfect past tense. It means the sponsorship was in the past, and may continue.

The government sponsored the project.

This sentence is written in the simple past tense. It means the government was the sponsor in the past.

For writing purposes, the simple past tense is easier for the reader to understand, and should be used unless additional precision is necessary.


Silt

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2011, 02:03:08 PM »
had - such a funny word.

Perfected past, as mentioned, is the key to understanding. So it depends on what you want to say with those statements.

It is hard to see had in that sense without the use of two.

I had had enough with the noise - a relating of a previous action, told from a different time.

I had enough with their noise - time could be present, action present about an event from past/present.

*

I believe you could remove them, but also believe you are worrying much like I did once, over small things that can be taken either way regardless how you write them.

Don't get stuck.

Offline mudge

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2011, 02:16:12 PM »
had - such a funny word.

Perfected past, as mentioned, is the key to understanding. So it depends on what you want to say with those statements.

It is hard to see had in that sense without the use of two.

I had had enough with the noise - a relating of a previous action, told from a different time.

I had enough with their noise - time could be present, action present about an event from past/present.

*

I believe you could remove them, but also believe you are worrying much like I did once, over small things that can be taken either way regardless how you write them.

Don't get stuck.

Woo!  Let's go for three!!

I had had, had in a sentence.....but I took them out.    ;D
You know that little indestructible black box that is used on planes, why can\'t they make the whole plane out of the same substance?

Offline Taylor

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2011, 03:21:05 PM »
I still have trouble with tenses, which, as the others alluded to, you must think about when considering the use of the kinds of words you mentioned.

The way I look at it is this: Things that are still considered true/active are likely to be reported by a present tense, and vice versa. It's loose, I know, but it gets me by.  :)

Don't fret too much about it though.
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."

Philip K. Dick

Silt

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2011, 03:31:20 PM »
had had had Ha! I like that :)

Offline Hugh

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2011, 03:47:30 PM »
Funny old word, “had”.

Remember the old sentence that makes sense if you punctuate it correctly?

Mary whereas John had had had had had had had had had had had the examiner’s approval.

Hugh

Silt

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2011, 04:53:08 PM »
I would have nudged the Professor in fear he had developed a skip. :)

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2011, 05:00:54 PM »
Yes? Did someone call me?  ;D ;D
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Silt

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2011, 05:03:21 PM »
Ha! :D

Offline johnnyh2

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2011, 08:55:10 PM »
I remember an English lesson at school.  Must have been around 1975.  Mr Evans wrote the following sentence on the blackboard.

John where Paul had had had had had had had had had had been correct

He offered £1 to anyone who could punctuate the sentence correctly.   

Anyone?
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Max_with_word_processor

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Re: Grammar and the word "had"
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2011, 09:01:24 PM »
Um, did Paul stutter a lot?  ;D