I threw up after I had some sausage and had washed it down with sour milk.

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zaffy

Senior Member
Polish
Does this sentence sound natural? Do I have to repeat the second "had"? If I don't repeat it, won't it sound like the simple past rather than the past perfect needed here?

-I threw up after I had some sausage and had washed it down with sour milk.
 
  • Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Notice that "had washed" is already past perfect, so if anything it's the first "had" that would need to be repeated, because "had some sausage" is simple past.
    "after I had had some sausage and had washed it down" :tick:

    But better would be "after having had some sausage and {having} washed it down". The second "having" would be optional, because the first can be taken to apply to both participles.

    However, past simple for both ("after I had some sausage and washed it down") is also fine. The past perfect is not required here because the, er, input and output operations can be viewed as essentially contemporaneous. The reader is left in no doubt that the the consumption preceded the vomiting.
     

    zaffy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Notice that "had washed" is already past perfect, so if anything it's the first "had" that would need to be repeated, because "had some sausage" is simple past.
    Yes, my mistake. I meant "I threw up after I had had some sausage and had washed it down with sour milk."

    So, again, are all three acceptable?
    -I threw up after I had had some sausage and had washed it down with sour milk."
    -I threw up after I had had some sausage and washed it down with sour milk."
    -I threw up after I had some sausage and washed it down with sour milk."
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I can't tell you that the first two versions are "unacceptable" because there is a solid reason behind using "had had" and "had washed" in the sentence. But all those auxiliary verbs (have) that are necessary to form the past perfect annoy me, zaffy. I prefer the last sentence even though you didn't use the past perfect after the word "after" in that sentence. The past simple versions of "have" and "wash" sound fine to me even if you use "after" in the sentence.

    I agree with grassy's, Edinburgher's and Keith's general advice, but I would like to add my own to the accumulating wisdom:D: Don't clutter your sentences with compound tenses if the sequence of events is clear without using those tenses. If you can express an idea entirely and clearly with the past simple, it is probably better to do that than it is to burden your writing with needless verb tenses.
     
    Last edited:

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I quite like Keith's eating and washing version.
    I do too. It's a clever solution if you want to avoid cluttering that sentence with conjugated verbs. And it serves well with one instance of the pronoun "I", which also looks like an improvement to me.
     
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