1) This is not the first time that the residents of the capital have had to suffer such inconveniences. (This is collected from a daily newspaper)

2) "This is not the first time that the residents of the capital have to suffer such inconveniences.

I know the rules of "have to/has to, had to ". But I haven't found anything on "have/has had to ".

Would somebody tell me the difference between those sentences?

  • Where are those constructions from? What does your research into have to and have had to show? – Helmar Oct 3 '16 at 12:08
  • @Helmar I have found nothing about "have/has had to. that's why I need your help. – dz420 Oct 3 '16 at 12:16

"have had to" and "had had to" are the perfect forms of "have to"/"has to"/"had to", so it operates very similarly to the difference between the simple and perfect in other cases:

I have to eat before noon

compared to

I have had to eat before noon every day this week

The first is an obligation one time; the second specifies a recurring obligation started in the past but with current relevance.

The difference between "had to" and "had had to" is similar but in the past instead of the present; the past perfect "had had to" would express a past obligation starting before another past event with continued relevance to the second past event.

I had to eat before noon last Friday to be able to catch my bus

compared to:

I had had to eat before noon every Friday last year to be able to catch my bus

  • Would you give me an example of "had had to"? – dz420 Oct 5 '16 at 9:30

Phrases starting with the first time are "shifted back" into the past. So if it's something you are doing now, you use present perfect:

This is the first time I've eaten octopus.

If it's something that will (or might) happen in the future, use the present:

The first time you travel abroad, you will need to get passport.

If it happened in the past, you can use past perfect:

That was the first time I'd used a computer.

But in this case, simple past is also OK:

That was the first time I used a computer.

But beware! Phrases starting with the last time follow different rules in the present and past:

This is the last time I eat octopus.

That was the last time I used a computer. (Past perfect is not OK here.)

I am not competent to explain these rules. But if you break them, you will sound foreign.

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