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Is this sentence grammatically valid? —

The king had many occasions experiencing the power of the hermit's talisman.

It sort of sounds correct to my ears, for I have heard examples like — "He spent his entire life searching for the true meaning of life."; though I wonder whether this sentence is close enough to the first one in structure.

So, is the first sentence correct? If yes, then please provide some citations for this kind of usage of the present participle, if possible. Thanks a lot!

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The sentence should really include the missing preposition of :

The king had many occasions of experiencing the power of the hermit's talisman.

This would make it equivalent to any number of similar constructions:

The king had many occasions of good health.
The king had many occasions of state.

Strangely, it seems to be understandable without the preposition even though the other constructions aren't.

The difference between it and the other example you gave is that this example is discussing a series of things, whereas the other example is discussing a single, and continuous, thing. However, the general construction is the same—and in the other example, the preposition used is for.


Having said that, even though it's grammatical, it's not entirely idiomatic and it would commonly be phrased differently:

The king had many occasions to experience the power of the hermit's talisman.


To address a point in another answer, although verb tenses can be legitimately mixed in some sentences, the issue is moot here because this particular sentence only has a single verb: to have.

Here, experiencing is not a verb, it's a gerund—or an -ing-formed verb that is acting as a noun. As such, it is without a tense. (He was smoking, he is smoking, he will be smoking.)

  • So, do you think experiencing is grammatically correct in the given sentence? – Arjun Aug 8 '18 at 23:30
  • Or does it just sound correct, but isn't? – Arjun Aug 8 '18 at 23:30
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    @Arjun Yes. However, that sentence would not normally be phrased that way. (It's correct, but uncommon.) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 9 '18 at 0:12
  • Could you please add that to your answer? I know you already have, but could you make it stronger? It's kind of hard to make out. I am going to cite this somewhere, that's why. Thanks a lot for the help, sir!! I will also accept this once you do that. Thanks! – Arjun Aug 9 '18 at 0:29
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    @Arjun I've modified my answer to specifically say that it's grammatical. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Aug 9 '18 at 0:38
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I'm not sure if it's not really proper because it mixes the tenses (past tense: had many occasions, present tense: experiencing). It would be more proper to say "the king had experienced the power of the hermit's talisman on many occasions," but ultimately grammar is just something that describes common patterns in a language, and the original sentence is close enough to the standard pattern that I wouldn't have noticed anything wrong with it if I was reading it in a book.

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As a native BrE speaker, I am certain that I have never before seen the phrase "... had many occasions..". Instead, "...had on many occasions had experienced..." would work.

Nevertheless the word 'occasions' is an odd choice. In this context I would expect to find "times" rather than "occasions".

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