If he had had the directions, he would have arrived on time.

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Cholo234

Senior Member
American English
<<If he had had the directions, he would have arrived on time.>>

Does the use of the pluperfect above add a (new) dimension that isn't found in the following sentence? "If he had the directions, he would have arrived on time." If so, what dimension does it add?
 
  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    If he had the directions, he would have arrived on time means that we don't know whether or not he had the directions or whether or not he arrived on time.
    It is a conjecture or speculation.

    Only the had had version means that we can say that he did not arrive on time. If he had had means that he didn't have the directions.
     

    CamilleFrenchatRutgers

    New Member
    English-American
    For me, the grammatically correct thing to say is "If he had had the directions..." because when you say "he WOULD have arrived on time" you are asserting that he did not in fact arrive on time. "If he had directions" refers to a present or, better, a future time and indicates that you are unsure whether he will have them at that time. I don't think you can pair "if he had directions" (future) with "he would have arrived on time" (past).
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    <<If he had had the directions, he would have arrived on time.>>

    Does the use of the pluperfect above add a (new) dimension that isn't found in the following sentence? "If he had the directions, he would have arrived on time." If so, what dimension does it add?
    Temporal dimension.

    With If he had had directions, it's clear that the temporal reference is past time.
    With If he had directions, we'd likely assume a present-future reference; only by hearing/reading the entire sentence we "see" the past reference.

    Pragmatically, we take information/absorb information in chunks, so it's quite possible that, in a short sentence such as this one, we "process" the whole sentence at once, so this becomes a non-issue. In other words, we see that "would have arrived" anchors the whole thing in the past. Still, to avoid ambiguity, it's always best to use "had had" (which in speech most likely becomes contracted: If he'd had directions).
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    If he had the directions, he would have arrived on time can relate to two different situations, as described in the posts by grassy and sound shift:

    (1) If he had the directions [now], he would have arrived on time. He hasn't got the directions, and that's why he hasn't arrived on time;
    (2) If he had the directions [then], he would have arrived on time. Either he had the directions or he didn't. If he did, I deduce that he arrived on time. If he didn't, I deduce that he didn't arrive on time.
     

    Cholo234

    Senior Member
    American English
    From the posts, I'm deducing (1) that the sample sentence is a contrary-to-fact statement and (2) that the second sentence takes place in the present, has a present/future reference and is not a contrary-to-fact statement.

    I heard different opinions and think it's great to be able to express different opinions.

    If he had the directions, he would have arrived on time means that we don't know whether or not he had the directions or whether or not he arrived on time.
    (1) If he had the directions [now], he would have arrived on time. He hasn't got the directions,
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    E2efour's explanation equates to my (2), Cholo:
    (2) If he had the directions [then], he would have arrived on time. Either he had the directions or he didn't. If he did, I deduce that he arrived on time. If he didn't, I deduce that he didn't arrive on time.
    My (1) refers to the present. My (2) refers to the past.

    Your second sentence has two different meanings. Context will indicate which meaning is intended.
     
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    Cholo234

    Senior Member
    American English
    (I'm going out on a limb now.)

    "If he had the directions, he would have arrived on time" is a more speculative sentence than "If he had had the directions, he would have arrived on time" because, at least in sentence two, one knows that he did not have the directions. In sentence one you don't know this. (They both are good sentences.)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    In "If he had had the directions, he would have arrived on time" ~ we know he didn't have the directions.

    In "If he had the directions, he would have arrived on time": meaning (1) {relating to the present} ~ we know he doesn't have the directions.
    In "If he had the directions, he would have arrived on time": meaning (2) {relating to the past} ~ we don't know whether he had the directions or not.

    Both "If he had had the directions, he would have arrived on time" and "If he had the directions, he would have arrived on time" are good sentences.
     

    Cholo234

    Senior Member
    American English
    In "If he had the directions, he would have arrived on time": meaning (1) {relating to the present} ~ we know he doesn't have the directions.
    He doesn't have the directions, so he didn'arrive on time.
    In the above sentences, I think, one makes the plausible assumption that: (1) a person with directions will more likely arrive on time than (2) a person without directions.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    In the above sentences, I think, one makes the plausible assumption that: (1) a person with directions will more likely arrive on time than (2) a person without directions.
    I think that's the assumption in all the sentences being discussed in this thread:).
     

    thetazuo

    Senior Member
    Chinese - China
    (1) If he had the directions [now], he would have arrived on time. He hasn't got the directions, and that's why he hasn't arrived on time;
    (2) If he had the directions [then], he would have arrived on time. Either he had the directions or he didn't. If he did, I deduce that he arrived on time. If he didn't, I deduce that he didn't arrive on time.
    Hi. I assume there is a third meaning to the sentence “If he had the directions [then], he would have arrived on time.”. The speaker knows he didn’t arrive on time, and infers that he didn’t have the directions [then]. Or The speaker knows he did arrive on time, and infers that he may have had the directions [then].

    Does it make sense?
     
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