have had or had?

Alis96

Member
Italian
Hello everyone!
I was wondering which tense is better in the following sentence. I'm torn between the past simple and the present perfect.

That accident had/has had terrible consequences on her life.

Suppose we are talking about an accident having occured a long time ago. It belongs to the past, so maybe I should use the past simple. Nonetheless, the consequences of that accident are still relevant in this person's life, so I thought that maybe I should use the present perfect. Can you help me figure out which one is better and why?
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    the consequences of that accident are still relevant in this person's life, so I thought that maybe I should use the present perfect.
    This is a very good reason for using the present perfect. Perhaps the most important thing, though, is what perspective are you using in what you are writing. If you are describing a person's history, writing a biography, for example, you are mostly concerned with the past, in which case the past tense may well be more appropriate. If, on the other hand, you are describing the person as they are now, then use the present perfect.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    You understand the choices exactly. You can use either, so are you thinking primarily of the effect it had in the past, or the effect it has now?

    cross-posted
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    That accident had terrible consequences on her life. I am thinking about her past life. Maybe she's dead. Maybe I'm writing her biography.
    That accident has had terrible consequences on her life. I am thinking about her present life. She's certainly not dead. Maybe I'm trying to get her some practical help.
     

    Alis96

    Member
    Italian
    I'd like to focus on the effects on her present life. I'll use the present perfect, as you suggested. Thank you for your help :)
     
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