All the faith he had had had had no effect on the outcome


Urdu - Pakistan

“All the faith he had had had had no effect on the outcome of his life”

I just came across this Image, and it claims that the above mentioned phrase is correct.

How come it is correct with four consecutive had ?
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    The sentence is grammatically correct, but few native speakers would ever use it, because it looks confusing.

    It is correct with for consecutive "hads" because "had" is a very versatile word. The sentence means "All the faith he had possessed in the past had produced no effect on the outcome of his life." And that's probably more or less how we would write it.


    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    The number of repeated words in English by no means correlates to the grammatical correctness of the sentence. Here we have "All the faith [that he had had] had had no effect."

    We sometimes make sentences like this for no reason, besides playing with the flexibility of our language and because repeated words are amusing or interesting. This sentence is hard to understand, because the person who wrote the sentence was more interested in repeating the word "had" than in expressing a thought in a natural or easily comprehensible manner.


    Senior Member
    English UK
    Lucas is right.

    I suspect that this sentence is more likely to occur in spoken English rather than in written English: in spoken English, intonation would help us to sort out the various meanings of the four "had"s.

    In written English, we'd probably choose an alternative construction;).


    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    A run of four consecuive 'had's is pretty good without punctuation inbetween.
    If punctuation is allowed, there is a well-known example of a run of eleven 'had's.


    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Haven't you come across this? It's quite sweet, really, but of course extremely contrived. More so than the five 'and's example (a chip shop owner complaining to the sign writer that the space between "fish" and "and" and "and" and "chips" isn't the same). I could make it thirteen if I mis-spell a name.

    Two pupils, Abdul and Haddad, wrote equivalent sentences, but one of them wrote the simple past "had" where the other use past perfect "had had". Their teacher thought the past perfect more appropriate. Moreover, the whole story is told in a way that makes past perfect appropriate for narrating this part.

    Abdul, where Haddad had had "had", had had "had had". "Had had" had had the teacher's approval.

    Tyrion Lann

    Senior Member
    INDIA -Hindi
    I can only interpret the first three"had" of the O.P.

    “All the faith he had"(subject) had (helping verb) had ( main verb) no effect on the outcome of his life.

    What is the use of fourth "had" is beyond my comprehension.
    Please explain it.
    Last edited:

    Tyrion Lann

    Senior Member
    INDIA -Hindi
    Why I need to go 1st past perfect and make it the subject of my past perfect tense. Why can't I simply make my simple past tense as a subject of past perfect?

    Past simple tense simply gives an idea of past, and it could use for things happened a hundred year ago or a moment ago.

    “All the faith he had had { past perfect of past perfect}......had had no effect on the outcome of his life”

    “All the faith he had{ past of past perfect}... had had no effect on the outcome of his life”

    For me, It doesn't matter how many times we use had after " had had had" we always remain in the past perfect tense.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    { past perfect of past perfect
    No, it isn't "past perfect of past perfect", the two "had"s are simply one past perfect. The other two make a second past perfect.
    Two of the four "had"s are what you call helping verbs, the other two are participles of the main verbs.
    What makes things confusing is that the main verb is the same as the helper.
    See Florentia's explanation in #11. The first main verb is "have" in the sense of "possess", the second is part of "have no effect" meaning "make no difference", so in Florentia's version the two remaining "had"s are helpers which make the two past perfects "had possessed" and "had made no difference".

    Remember that the original example quoted in #1 is not entirely serious. It's only an attempt to see how many "had"s you can string together with it still making some kind of sense.


    Senior Member
    English - USA (Midwest/Appalachia)
    It's not that unlikely a sentence in conversation, except that we'd use contractions: All the faith he'd had'd had no effect on the outcome of his life.
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