Have Had vs. Had Had in English (with examples)

Most learners usually don’t understand well how they can use Had Had and Have Had in English. While these grammar tenses seem odd, they’re grammatically correct. If you also have trouble understanding these grammar tenses, then you’ve landed just at the right page.

This lesson expounds on Have Had vs. Had Had, including how and when to use these tenses and more detailed examples to help you comprehend them better. But first, we’ll start by understanding the past and present perfect tenses.

Past and present perfect tenses

These tenses are normally developed with an auxiliary verb plus the main verb.

Past Perfect:

The format for past perfect tenses is usually = had plus the main verb in the past participle. For example:

  1. My friends had finished the discussion by the time I arrived.
  2. When the teacher asked why Mary didn’t show up yesterday, her classmates said she had gone missing.
  3. I had played five chess tournaments before I was eight years old.

Present Perfect:

The format for present perfect tense is usually =

has/have plus the main verb in the past participle. For example:

  1. I have completed my race
  2. He has gone to the movies.
  3. We have stayed in this area for six years.

You use Have Had when describing activities that started during the past and can be linked to the present, like in the last example. It can also be used when describing past activities without stating their occurrence time, like in the first two examples.

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How to use Have Had

Have Had is present perfect tense. It would help if you conjugated this tense to create it with varying subjects. The auxiliary verb for this tense usually is Have when using it for; they, I, we, and you, or it can be also Has for it, she, and he.

Examples in sentences

  1. We have had this conversation before. Can we talk about something else, please?
  2. He has had three degrees in the last ten years
  3. She has had the capital since last year.

Most native English speakers usually use this tense while in short form. For example, I’ve had, she’s had, it’s had, we’ve had, they’ve had, you’ve had, she’s had, and he’s had.

How to ask questions with the present perfect

When using the present perfect to ask questions, it’s uncommon to utilize contractions/short forms of the tense. We place the subject in the middle of Have and Had. For examples:

  1. Have you had breakfast yet?
  2. Has she had her scholarship processed?

However, if you utilize intonations to make sentences into questions, you can use contractions. Usually, you’ll increase your voice’s pitch towards the end of the query. Here are examples to help you understand this concept;

  1. You’ve had breakfast already?
  2. She’s already had her scholarship processed?

As mentioned earlier, you can use the present perfect when discussing past actions/events and are relatable to the present. For example:

  1. I’ve had many issues lately.
  2. I’ve had a few friends lately.

The word lately shows us that the tense is relatable to the current moment.

More examples in conversation form

  1. Mom: Will you eat the last chicken wing, Lorine?

Lorine: No, mum, I’ve had enough for today. Thanks.

  1. Interviewer: What’s your experience in the marketing industry?

Interviewee: I’ve had adequate experience. I started my marketing career eight years ago.

NOTE: have is an example of a helping verb while had is a past participle. Explaining why it’s grammatically correct to utilize Have more than once in a sentence.

How to use Had Had

Had Had is past perfect tense. Creating sentences with this tense is relatively easy since it’s similar for all subjects. We utilize this tense if the main verb is Have. The first Had represents an auxiliary verb, while the second Had stands for the past participle of Have.

‘Had Had’ can be in the form;

  1. I/you had had
  2. It/she/he had had
  3. They/we had had

You can also use them in short form. For example, I’d had, you’d had, she’d had, he’d had, we’d had, they’d, and it’d had (although it’s rarely used).

How to ask questions with the past perfect

Like in the present perfect tense, it’s uncommon to utilize contractions/short forms of the tense while asking questions. We place the subject in the middle of Had and Had. For example

  1. Had you had sufficient training before going to the Olympics?
  2. Had they had a meeting before the class started?

However, if you utilize intonations to make sentences into questions, you can use short forms/contractions. Usually, you need to increase your voice’s pitch towards the end of the query. For example;

  1. You’d had sufficient training before going to the Olympics?
  2. They’d had a meeting before the class started?

We usually use past perfect when describing events or actions that occurred during the past before other past events or activities.

For example, in example 2, the initial past action that occurred was ‘they had had a meeting…(past perfect tense) and the simple past event/action was ‘…before the class started (simple perfect tense)

Is Had Had common?

Most people don’t use this tense in their everyday speeches. Many native speakers usually use the simple past tense and ignore the past perfect tense.

One of the reasons why people ignore the past perfect is because they find the simple perfect tense simple to use, particularly if it doesn’t affect a sentence’s meaning. However, you should be keen because you can easily change the meaning of your sentence if you omit the past perfect.

People can also ignore the past perfect because they have trouble pronouncing the contractions, especially when they talk faster. Mostly, the second had (it’d, we’d) in contractions disappears when speaking.

For proper and grammatically correct sentences, it’s best you understand when to and not to utilize the perfect tense.

Conclusion

Most English tenses can be confusing if you don’t know how to use them well. Have Had and Had Had may seem difficult to comprehend, but they’re pretty easy tenses. The main difference between Have Had vs. Had Had is that the first one is present perfect while the latter is past perfect.