They had had enough!

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,276 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited February 2020 in Grammar
Recently, a student was reading a text and it contained the following sentence:
By 1978 the English had had enough.

The student asked the question: "Is that a mistake in the text?"

What do you think?  Is it a mistake?  B)

From time to time in writing we do repeat words.  Here are some examples: 

When I gave her her lost bag back, she was delighted!
Once I looked at it, it was impossible to continue working.

Both of these sentences are grammatically correct but could be reworded (why not try re-wording the sentences below?).  But what about the introductory example?  Is it okay?  After you have given it some thought, you can click below for the answer:

To understand “had had,” we need to understand the present perfect and past perfect tenses. Consider this sentence: “I have had too many potato chips today.” That sentence is written in the present perfect tense. This tense is used when discussing a past action that is continuing into the present. This sentence means that I started eating potato chips in the past but the potato chip eating is continuing up to the present. The present perfect tense uses 'has' and 'have' + the past participle, as in 'have had' and 'has gone'.

Now if the potato chip sentence is written in the past we would write: I had had too many potato chips yesterday so I felt sick.  Notice the use of had + the past participle?  So in the sentence 'I had had too many potato chips so I felt sick' two things happened in the past. First was eating potato chips; second was feeling sick. When you have two past-tense occurrences, you use past perfect to express the action that came first. If you are using the verb 'to have' in past perfect, you need to use two 'had's.

The first example sentence is correct!  B)
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