I know how to use 'would have had', but I’m really unsure about the tense. Is it past or present tense? Is it conditional?

  • 1
    Syntactically, an example like "He would have had enough money" is past tense because "would" is a past tense modal auxiliary verb. The embedded subordinate clause "have had enough money" is perfect tense. Such clauses often occur in conditional constructions.
    – BillJ
    Jun 4 '18 at 9:09
  • @LucianSava the link you provide does not answer the OP's question.
    – BillJ
    Jun 4 '18 at 9:22

It is "conditional perfect" as you can see from a chart at https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/have#Conjugation. (Click on "show".)

  • Conditional is not a tense, but a type of adjunct, a preposition phrase to be precise. And since the head verb in the upper matrix clause is past form "would", that would make the sentence as a whole 'past tense'.
    – BillJ
    Jun 4 '18 at 10:12
  • 1
    @BillJ: "In the traditional grammatical description of some languages, including English, many Romance languages, and Greek and Latin, "tense" or the equivalent term in that language refers to a set of inflected or periphrastic verb forms that express a combination of tense, aspect, and mood." (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tense%E2%80%93aspect%E2%80%93mood) Jun 4 '18 at 10:34
  • @GerardH.Pille But not in Present-day English.
    – BillJ
    Jun 4 '18 at 10:41

The verb phrase would have had (would have possessed [would have had the money], would have experienced [would have had a good time]) refers to something not actual in the past (because some condition was not true).

They would have had a picnic yesterday if it hadn't rained.

But it can be used in present non-actual contexts:

I would have had enough money with me now if I had not forgotten my wallet.

I would have enough money with me now if I had not forgotten my wallet.

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