I am not a native speaker, so understanding a foreign language while living in an environment where people don't speak English very often is a little challenging. Recently, I came across these. I would be glad if you could help with these and explain where to use them?

  1. He had had to read/swim.
  2. Could have had to read/swim.
  3. Would have had to read/swim.

I am quite acquainted with sentences with 2 consecutive "hads" or have immediately followed by had, but what good on the Earth is this little word "TO" doing at the end of every sentence?

  • 2
    'To' is part of the infinitive of the verb. "He had to swim 100 metres to reach the boat. If the boat had not been there, he would have had to swim 200 metres to reach the shore."
    – Kate Bunting
    Oct 31, 2017 at 12:10
  • 1
    Thanks Dear , and " it was better to have felt " Does this sentence convey anything different than " It was better to feel " .As a non-native, I am unable to find difference between the two. They both appear same to me .
    – Sharma Pocso
    Oct 31, 2017 at 12:16

1 Answer 1


These all use the phrasal verb "have to" = "be required to".

Syntactically this behaves just like the verb "have" (the full verb, not the auxiliary), but it has a distinct meaning.

So the structures are just like

had done

could have done

would have done

  • These all use perfect aspect, so the phrase "have to" becomes "had to", and the example "done" replaces "had to swim", etc.
    – amI
    Oct 31, 2017 at 17:55

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