1

I know the cases like I had had a headache yesterday. where had had is grammatically correct.

Is ".. + had + had + past-participle + .." grammatically correct the way used in the following sentences, or should it always be ".. + had + past-participle + .." in such cases?

The dreams he had had helped him make some sense out of the two fragmented portions of his life.

The success of their operation had had helped them forget all their tiredness and anxiety.

Or should the above two sentences be like;

The dreams he had helped him make some sense out of the two fragmented portions of his life.

The success of their operation had helped them forget all their tiredness and anxiety.

  • The second example is syntactically invalid. Either delete of, or delete one instance of had. – FumbleFingers Jan 15 at 13:17
2

The dreams he had had helped him make some sense out of the two fragmented portions of his life. 

This is a lovely, grammatically sound, rather ambiguous sentence.  However, the wording "had had helped" does not exist in this sentence as a coherent phrase. 

I see two possibilities.  In one, "had" and "had helped" are separate phrases.  In the other, the separate phrases are "had had" and "helped". 

We have "dreams", which looks like a simple subject in search of a verb.  We have "he", which looks like another subject in search of its own verb.  We should expect two separate verb phrases. 

When viewed in context, "had had" and "helped" seems more likely:

It was getting light in the hospital room where Lessing awoke from his dream-filled sleep.  The dreams he had had [before waking] helped him [now] to make some sense out of the two fragmented portions of his life. 

 


 

The success of their operation had had helped them forget all their tiredness and anxiety. 

This is not grammatically sound.  It looks like a simple editing error.  As written, it gives us no reason to expect separate verb phrases.  Possible corrections include:

The success of their operation had helped them forget all their tiredness and anxiety.
 
The success [that] their operation had had helped them forget all their tiredness and anxiety.

0
  • (The dreams he had had) helped him make some sense out of the two fragmented portions of his life.

&

  • The success of their operation had (xhad X)helped them forget all their tiredness and anxiety.

In the first sentence" the dreams" has its verb in "helped" and ' he had had ' is actually ' which he had had ', an adjective clause.

For your original 2nd. example Fumble Finger's prescription is the best cure. However, I have removed redundant HAD but retained auxiliary HAD ( the meaningless one) for past perfect tense formation. This is now a simple sentence where " helped" the main verb. Here you can eliminate both the HADs or retain one tense- forming HAD as I have kept for distancing in time.

Option 2. If OF is deleted retaining both the HADs it becomes a ditto construction of the first example.

1

In the two sentences that you quote, 'helped' is not a past participle but a simple past. Perhaps it would help to look at the syntax of these two sentences. In both cases, the part ending with had had acts as a subject for the rest of the sentence:

subject helped him make some sense out of the two fragmented portions of his life.

subject helped them forget all their tiredness and anxiety.

The subject of the first sentence is "the dreams he had had" and for the second sentence it is "The success their operation had had". Note that I have removed of from the second phrase to make it grammatically correct.

The use of past perfect had had makes it clear that the dreams and success preceded the past event in the main sentence.

  • "The success of their operation" and "The success their operation had had" are way too different contexts, right? Would my second sentence be correct as it is? ^^ – Zeeshan Ali Jan 15 at 11:04
  • 2
    They are two different constructions, but with the same meaning. Your original second sentence is not grammatical. – Colin Fine Jan 15 at 13:02

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