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a. Three times he had books stolen from him.

b. He had books stolen from him on three occasions.

Could those sentences be used if each time one book was stolen from him?

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c. He had a book stolen from him three times.

Is that one correct? Obviously, each time a different book was stolen from him.

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Your first two sentences mean much the same thing. The nuance is different however. You might say:

Three times (as he threaded his way home through the angry crowds with his packages) he had books stolen from him.

That's to say that there is no indication of what separation there is, if any, between those times.

To say He had books stolen from him on three occasions makes it clear that these occasions are quite separate although the period between them is undefined.

To say He had a book stolen from him three times is ambiguous. It leaves open the possibility that it was the same book.

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  • 'The same book' can mean 'a copy of the same book'. – Michael Harvey Feb 28 at 10:38

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