Even without a speck of cloud, I couldn’t spot God. Had he died like Nietzsche had said/declared?

(This is first-person narration past tense. And Nietzsche, a dead philosopher, said that statement centuries ago.)

Do I need the second had? Why or why not.

  • If it's looking deeper into the past before "death" then I'd add the second "had" there. Jun 29, 2017 at 13:04
  • 2
    This is more a matter of perspective. The second had is optional there.
    – Robusto
    Jun 29, 2017 at 13:30
  • 2
    What @Robusto said. But from my perspective, it seems better not to include it in the specific cited context (within which I'd also change like to comma + as). Jun 29, 2017 at 14:08
  • Thank you for letting us know that Nietzsche was a philosopher, and especially for the good news that he is dead. Jun 29, 2017 at 14:18
  • 1
    You could say Was He dead as Nietzsche had declared?
    – TimR
    Jun 29, 2017 at 21:13

2 Answers 2


In order too fully determine whether the second "had" is necessary, you may need to finish the context of your sentence.

Had he died like Nietzsche had said (when / about what)?

The sentence sounds heavy with two "had"s

If your intention is complete, then it might be phrased as

Is he dead like Nietsche said?
Had he died like Nietsche said?

simple past which is still currently true.


You shouldn't. Declared here is a past simple verb that limits previous action in past perfect he had died. So in this sentence you have two tenses: past perfect Had he died and past simple Nietzsche said/declared. And grammatically it means that God died before Nietzsche said that.

Adding second had you'd have to add something in past simple to limit past perfect. Because past perfect is used to talk about something that happened before another action in the past. And that's the case we have here.

And besides, having two past perfects will change the meaning of the sentence. It'll mean that actions Had he died and Nietzsche had said/declared had occurred before another action in the past but without clear indication which action happened earlier: Had he died or Nietzsche had said/declared

So adding another had will be grammatically incorrect here.

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