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Is the word 'have' required in this sentence or is it just meaningless here?

Yet I have had to watch him surpass me time and time again!

Would removing 'have' from the sentence change its meaning in any way?

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Yes, it does make a difference. Don't be confused by the had in there: it's part of had to - the past of have to - which means must.

Yet I had to watch him surpass me time and time again!

This is past simple: It means that you did have to watch him surpass you, maybe for a while, but it finished some time ago.

Yet I have had to watch him surpass me time and time again!

This is present perfect simple: it means that you had to watch him surpass you in the past, and it is still happening!

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  • I can't help looking for an exclamation mark at the end. Your last sentence reminds me of Baby Bear's great line in Goldilocks... "Someone's been sleeping in my bed and she's still there!" Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 20:24
  • The sentence was, actually, said by Majin Vageta to Goku after their battle with each other in GBA's game Dragon Ball Z : Buu's Fury. @FumbleFingers
    – 7_R3X
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 20:34
  • @FumbleFingers: your wish is my command.
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 20:39
  • @7_R3X,JavaLatte: I always liked reading that line to my kids when it was time for bedtime stories (they probably made me read that story more than most, simply because they could tell I liked it too! :) It's just such a quirky combination of meaning+verb tenses that it always makes me smile! Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 20:58

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