General Question

lessonenglish's avatar

Had after have in this sentences?

Asked by lessonenglish (278points) February 4th, 2011

I have a doubt regarding following sentences when we use had after have, then sometimes it makes me confused. The examples are:

I have experience of four years. vs I have had experience of four years.

I have an ink pen vs I have had an ink pen.

I have a wooden bed, two chairs and a cupboard vs I have had a wooden bed, two chairs and a cupboard.

Do these sentence have same meaning?
If we compare tenses then sentence with have is present simple and that of have had indicates present perfect. But how can we correlate these sentence?

Good answers will be appreciated. :D

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19 Answers

missingbite's avatar

Have had is past tense. I have or I have had are two different time frames.

JLeslie's avatar

Have had usually means you had something in the past, but don’t have it now. So I have had an ink pen, would mean you don’t have it now. I have an ink pen means you have it currently.

The experience sentence is more tricky, because you never lose the experience you gain. So, have had typically would not be used in this way. I have experience implies the past and that you still maintain the experence and skills. Also, your sentence regarding experience is a little odd, because of the preposition “of.” The correct way to state it would be I have four years experience. Or, I have four years of experience.

lessonenglish's avatar

@missingbite : Have + past participle is the structure for Present perfect tense.
Have + past participle of have i.e had then the tense will be present perfect.

6rant6's avatar

Isn’t it somewhat contextual?

“I have had my job for twelve years.” Past & continuing
“I have had bad experiences at bus stops.” Past only
“I have had bad experiences in my job at the bus stop.” Apparently a hooker.

JLeslie's avatar

@6rant6 LOL. Good point.

seazen's avatar

@JLeslie Is correct, however, besides the rule which you just mentioned, remember that have (or has accordingly) is both a verb and an auxiliary (helping) verb – as in this case to create the Perfect tense. It is easier if you use the contraction: I’ve. If you had experience with something in the past, but it isn’t relevant to the present, then you’ve had experience with that – for example:

I’ve had (a bad) experience with that school; I won’t be taking any more classes there.

I had an ink pen and I’ve had an ink pen mean the same. It’s important to use grammar with actual meaning – that is – context is important, too, not just rules: I don’t have a dog now. I had one in the past. I became allergic to fur, so although I’ve had dogs (meaning I have raised them) I no longer have one.

When in doubt about using have had, try to think of it with he, she and it: has had. It’s less confusing. I’m outta here: I’ve had enough of grammar for now.

6rant6's avatar

@seazen and the past tense of “You don’t say,” is “You didn’t say”?

lessonenglish's avatar

@seazen : I have had a bad experience with that school means the same I had a bad experience with that school. Just replacing had by got“I have got a bad experience with that school” means “once I had a bad experience with that school”.

WasCy's avatar

You’re learning about the “perfect” tenses.

“Present perfect” is ‘have’ or ‘has’ (depending on the verb form) with a present participle. It expresses action that started in the past and (normally) is continuing into the present.

“Past perfect” uses ‘had’ with a past participle. It expresses action that started in the past and also ended in the past.

In my examples I will avoid using the present and past participle of “have”, because that will be confusing. So I won’t use “I have had” or “I had had” examples, because it’s harder to see the participle and the helping verb.

Present Perfect, Using the Present Participle ‘Have’ Helper Verb
I have been working at this job for 20 years. = I started this job 20 years ago and I am still working there.
I have sailed for fifty years. = I started sailing 50 years ago and I still sail.

Past Perfect, Using the Past Participle ‘Had’ Helper Verb
I had been working at this job for 15 years when I got my promotion. = Fifteen years after I started working this job I got a promotion. This promotion is understood from the sentence to have occurred in the past.

I had been sailing for nearly 20 years before I got my own boat. = Twenty years after I started sailing I got my first boat (in the past).

We’ll get to “Future Perfect” some other time. (You will have been comfortable with present and past perfect before we attempt future perfect.)

WasCy's avatar

As I noted, if you express present and past perfect without a time reference, then it can be read the way @JLeslie noted in your example with the pen:

I have had a fountain pen. = I once had a fountain pen (but the sentence indicates that this is not a continuing ‘have’, so you probably don’t still have the pen). But “I have had a fountain pen for most of my life,” probably means (though it’s not certain) that you obtained a fountain pen a long time ago and you still have it. The meaning is very dependent upon the context (as usual).

lessonenglish's avatar

@WasCy @JLeslie @seazen @6rant6 Thanks a lot!! It helps a lot! :D.

Pandora's avatar

I would’ve reworded some of those.
Like already stated have is present and had is past.
I would’ve worded one of your sentences as I have 4 years experience. Or I had 4 years experience. You don’t have to put Have had because Had already indicates that you have collected in the past the experience. Its already assumed.
It is redundant to use have had in the same sentence.

ETpro's avatar

@missingbite & @JLeslie have it right, and I have had it with questions about have had. :-)

seazen's avatar

@ETpro—Have you just said that I hadn’t gotten it right?

WasCy's avatar


@missingbite surely does not have it right. Simple “had” is past tense. “Have had” is present perfect.

@JLeslie simply reworded an awkward sentence better, but didn’t really add to the OP’s question about perfect tenses.

ETpro's avatar

@seazen I have had no intentions to say that, even if I came right out and did so anyway.

@WasCy You are right. I rushed through that just to be cute. I have had better days. Thanks for catching it. @lessonenglish is it clear yet, or do you need additional explanation.

seazen's avatar

@ETpro Have you been saying that you haven’t had the opportunity to say that, or that you simply hadn’t said it at all? Having said that, I’m having a little headache from all the Perfect tenses. Have a good one, as they say in NY.

ETpro's avatar

Ha. I have no knowledge of having said anything at all, even in saying this. How’s that for a non apology?

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