the use of contracted or uncontracted had , e.g. he'd had

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Senior Member
I'm doing an exercise on conditional structures:
Choose the correct words in italics.
If he had/'d had to be alone for long he'd hate it.
The answer is: 'd.

I wonder what is wrong with the use of uncontracted had:
If he had had to be alone for long he'd hate it.
Does it sound really awkward?
Is it because we should use either contracted forms or full forms in a sentence?
Last edited:
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Hullo Wolf. If he had had isn't grammatically wrong, obviously.
    I would've given the same answer (he'd):
    (a) because there's another contracted form in the sentence*; and
    (b) because he'd had is a lot easier to read than he had had.

    *I used to go to a particular shopping centre here in Manchester which had posters round the place advertising its website:
    We are open even when we're closed.
    That always looked particularly stupid to me, that mishmash of contracted and uncontracted forms.


    Senior Member
    Thank you, ewie, for your explanation and interesting example. The uncontracted are in we are open is shouting in comparison with the contracted 're in the other clause. It emphasizes the fact that they are actually open 24 hours a day. So the mishmash is possible if it is done for emphasis. But it is not something normal to do.


    Senior Member
    English - British
    The idea that the uncontracted form could be wrong seems nonsense to me.
    In conversation, and in reproducing conversation in writing, we often use the contracted form.
    This does not make the prime, original uncontracted form wrong.
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