Police claimed to have had sent the file.

As have-had is used to connect past with present then how this sentence make any sense??

  • 1
    It connects their past with their present at the time the statement was made.
    – ЯegDwight
    May 25, 2019 at 17:57
  • how is it different from if i say , Police claimed to have sent the file.
    – mannu
    May 25, 2019 at 18:04
  • 1
    Today I say, "I claim to have answered your question". Tomorrow, I will say "I claimed to have had answered your question". When one half of the sentence shifts further into the past, so does the other half. The point of the sentence is not that the police have sent the file by now. The point is that they had sent the file by the time the statement was made. Which is not now, but a point in the past.
    – ЯegDwight
    May 25, 2019 at 18:10
  • 1
    Police claimed to have had the file sent is a bit of a mouthful, but it would be syntactically valid (meaning the police took steps / issued instructions that caused the file to be sent). May 25, 2019 at 18:18
  • 1
    You can't have two perfect "have"s in the same simple clause. "Have had" is okay in "He has had a car", because only the first "have" is a perfect -- the second one is the verb "have", In "have had sent", since "sent" is the perfect participle of "send", the "had" must be the perfect auxiliary, but the "have" is also a perfect. That is one perfect too many.
    – Greg Lee
    May 25, 2019 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


Unless it is a clumsy word-order swap on, 'Police claimed to have had the file sent', that sentence is not right.

The "have-had" combination is not a problem in some circumstances:

"I have had fish that wasn't quite fresh, and it was awful,"


"We have had to reconsider."

But in the past perfect verb tense we use either "have" or "had" (not both) followed by the participle of the main verb. And we can't stack up the "have"/"had"s and follow the second one by a main verb to make a "double past perfect tense". "Double pluperfect" doesn't exist. English doesn't support any tenses farther back (into past events) than the past perfect.

If you ponder it, you can think of a situation where someone might want to use that "tense". For example, suppose the police chief said,

"We had already sent the file by the time the FBI asked us not to."

Then a reporter might want to write,

"Police claimed to have had already sent the file before they were instructed not to."


"Police claimed to have had sent the file already."

But it wouldn't be right. In English you can't say that.

  • Yes, but you might say: The police claimed to have had the file sent already.
    – Lambie
    May 25, 2019 at 20:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .