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We use “have/has to” in the habitual Present-Tense that the subject doesn’t want to do an action willingly.

For instance:

I have to go to the market.

She has to get up in the morning.

So can we use “could have had to” to talk about the past that it was compulsively possible to do the action but I had not to do it?

e.g.

I could have had to go to the market.

She could have had to get up in the morning.

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I could have had to go to the market only makes sense in a counter-factual reading:

"[If something-or-other had happened,] I could have had to go to the market [, but in fact that didn't happen, so I didn't have to]".

Could have usually has this sense, whatever other parts of the verb are around.

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  • Or also to express uncertainty. "I can't remember what they wanted me to do. I could have had to go to the market, but I could have had to go to the park."
    – Obie 2.0
    Apr 22, 2020 at 14:47
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    @Obie2.0: you're right. I considered mentioning the epistemic meaning of could have, but decided it would not add anything to the answer and might confuse.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 22, 2020 at 16:22
  • Colin Fine, you are right too. I know how to use could have or have to in other cases, but adding anything to the answer could have been a little bit confusing.
    – Jay Ho
    Apr 22, 2020 at 16:37

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