Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Maybe he would help me with Deborah's pablum, take turns pushing the wheelchair. It's good to have someone.

That reminded me that I had someone -- or perhaps I was had. In any case, Rita would want to know I would be late, [...]

This is the first time I see a sentence like this. What tense is that I was had ?

EDIT: Wider context added.

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Without a little more context I can't be sure which of two interpretations to put on it: one positive, one negative, both slang (and not-quite-correct grammar.)

Positive: I had someone, and s/he had me; I was had. To have someone, in an indefinite sentence like this, means to be involved romantically with someone. "I once had a girl - or should I say, she once had me?" ("Was had" is not only grammatically nonstandard, but extremely unusual.)

Negative: I had had someone - or had I been had? To be had is to get fooled or cheated; in this interpretation the writer knows that s/he has just engaged in a battle of wits, and either won or lost... but isn't sure which.

Edit: with a bit more context (the passage is from a Dexter novel, TWELVE), the meaning becomes clearer.

Deborah has just been stabbed, and will perhaps be brain-damaged; Dexter has called an occasional boyfriend of hers. "Maybe he (the boyfriend) would help me with Deborah... It's good to have someone." It's good to have someone to take care of you.

"That reminded me that I had someone" - Dexter has a girlfriend wife, Rita, to take care of him - "or perhaps I was had." Maybe it's the other way around - maybe Rita has Dexter to take care of her.

share|improve this answer
    
Interesting, I hadn't heard "to be had" in the first sense you mention (but then again I'm not a native speaker). I'd have assumed the second, but the first probably makes more sense here. –  Joachim Sauer Jun 24 '11 at 8:16
    
I think the first sense, if phrased this way, is highly unusual. The second sense is certainly the more likely meaning. –  Urbycoz Jun 24 '11 at 8:22
3  
In this case, it could even be a mixture of the two: "I thought I had someone (a significant other) -- or maybe I was had (the relationship is/was a sham)." It really depends on the context. –  bye Jun 24 '11 at 8:35
    
@Urbycoz, it is unusual only in form "I was had", in both OPs full example and example that MT_Head gives, the meaning of having someone is quite likely (first part of sentence uses the word in one way, the second part uses it in different) –  Unreason Jun 24 '11 at 8:38
1  
But that's the whole point. It sounds incorrect. It is a play on the word had in two ways: Do I have her, or am I had, or have I been had? I've been had (cheated) and had (owned). –  Tragicomic Jun 24 '11 at 19:38
show 6 more comments

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.