Use of two “Hads” simultaneously on GMAT

Watch this short video to understand the rare usage when had is used twice simultaneously in a sentence. Useful for GMAT sentence correction questions.

Use of two "Hads" simultaneously on GMAT

Understanding perfect tenses is a vital part of GMAT preparation; doing so can be quite challenging as these tenses are only applied under certain peculiar circumstances. In particular, it is vital to understand the past perfect tense. In this short article, we will take a look at one of the very interesting nuances of past perfect tense usage.

An Interesting case of Past Perfect Tense

The past perfect tense is marked by the use of the word "had", or, in the case of plural subjects, the word "have"; this means that it can lead to some sentence construction that comes across as strange. Let us illustrate this idea, through the following example:

Example 1 - Jack told me that he had had a Ferrari.
Most GMAT aspirants would think that this sentence is incorrect, as it repeats the word "had" for seemingly no reason. However, this sentence is actually correct, as the two instances of the word "had" serve different purposes. The second "had" is for showing possession, indicating that Jack possessed a Ferrari, at some point in the past. The usage of this "had" can be compared to the usage of "had" in a sentence such as "I had breakfast." The first "had" is an instance of past perfect tense that suggests that Jack owned the Ferrari in the past and told the speaker that he owned it, even further in the past. This sentence is perfectly correct, there is just an additional layer to its meaning.

Let us now take a look at a few other examples, to explore this concept, further.

Example 2 - Jack told me that he had a Ferrari.
Please read this sentence closely and try to determine whether it is correct. Here we must take into account the exact meaning of this sentence, which is that Jack told the speaker that he had a Ferrari, at the time of speaking but not prior to it. Example 2 is a correct sentence but it has a different meaning than Example 1 does.

Example 3 - Jack told me that he has a Ferrari.
Once again, try to determine whether this sentence is correct, paying close attention to the meaning of the sentence. The use of the word "has", here, suggests that Jack currently possesses a Ferrari; thus, the meaning of the sentence is that Jack told the speaker that he possesses a Ferrari.

All three of these sentences are correct, they just have different meanings.

This article has deliberately been kept brief; for a more elaborate explanation, please refer to Experts' Global's Stage One Sentence Correction videos.

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