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Among those on his right was Bob, the guy that had days earlier started the lease and so began the first...

OR

Among those on his right was Bob, the guy that had days earlier started the lease and so begun the first...

OR

Among those on his right was Bob, the guy that had days earlier started the lease and so had begun the first...

The question really is, when the conjunction and lists two things that happened in the "perfect past", do I need a second had?

In this situation, the past is: Bob was on the right; while the "perfect past" or further past is: Bob was the guy that started the lease and (in so doing) began the first... (fill in the blank).

Which is right, or best? What is the rule?

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When did the action really start, after the lease or before the lease? –  Noah Aug 18 '12 at 6:21
2  
I suspect that we will need the entire sentence. Rather than capitalise, please bold or italicise for emphasis. –  coleopterist Aug 18 '12 at 6:53
    
@coleopterist: The bolding is done. (Of course, you could've done that, too. If you've got the credit, make the edit.) :^) –  J.R. Aug 18 '12 at 15:16
    
@J.R. Thanks :) (I thought that the OP was still around ... Manager speak: "when you need something done, delegate" :) –  coleopterist Aug 18 '12 at 15:21
    
thanks for all the help! –  Derek W Beck Aug 18 '12 at 21:15
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You don't need a second had unless you wish to use one. Your example

Among those on his right was Bob, the guy that had days earlier started the lease and so begun the first...

is perfectly grammatical and clear: "the guy ... had ... started ... and ... begun ..."

Even if you interject another clause the meaning and grammar are still fine:

Among those on his right was Bob, the guy that had days earlier started, in a manner of speaking, the entire process of acquiring the lease, and so begun the first ...

The fact that you are using the the first had to service two verbs is still clear. Now, if you were to use began instead of begun, it would become a different sentence with a different meaning.

Among those on his right was Bob, the guy that had days earlier started the lease, and so began the first...

Note the additional comma, inserted for clarity precisely to announce the fact that you are finished with the past perfect and beginning a clause using simple past. Presumably the omitted [...] material will discuss, in that new clause, the beginnings of some other event caused by the presence of Bob on the referenced individual's right side.

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Thanks, this is clear. My example sentence above is imperfect, but I definitely intend the "so begun" clause to be an immediate effect of his starting the lease, all of which happened days ago, before he was standing to the right. –  Derek W Beck Aug 18 '12 at 21:36
    
In other words, I will go with "begun". –  Derek W Beck Aug 18 '12 at 21:38
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It's best to keep words that are linked by a conjunction as close as possible.

While I don't suppose the intended sentence is of the form:

Among those on his right was Bob, the guy who had days earlier started the lease; and so began (/had begun) the first exchanges of the legal battle.

-as coleopterist says, we really aren't sure. (And doesn't one open / take out a lease?)

Among those on his right was Bob, the guy who days earlier had taken out the lease and so begun the first...

would seem clearer. 'Begun' is needed as it is short for 'had begun' (referring to Bob); however, putting the grammatically correct 'had' in does lead to a garden-path scenario which I exploited in my first exemplar.

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The lease began/opened question: indeed, my example sentence was made on the fly ;) –  Derek W Beck Aug 18 '12 at 21:25
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Both versions (began and begun) are perfectly normal and valid.

Technically speaking, begun here should be preceded by had, but in fact there's no need to repeat it, because there's implied repetition of OP's preceding HAD anyway...

I had drawn my gun and [had] started shooting before I recognised him.


Within the sentence fragment as given, begin could be intransitive (the first X began/had begun), or transitive (Bob began/had begun the first X), but this makes no difference to the answer.

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Your “technically speaking” thing is technically wrong. “I had already drunk and swum and sung and run, all before the firing squad came for me. God thing, that.” The auxiliary distributes across the conjunctive compound. This is standard English. There is no “technical” need to say “I had already drunk and had already swum and had already sung and had already run, all before the firing squad came for me.” That’s nonsensical. –  tchrist Aug 18 '12 at 14:09
    
@tchrist: Rubbish. In your examples, you need at least one initial instance of "had" that can be assumed to have been "deleted" before the later verb forms. Otherwise you'd end up with "I already sung before they shot me", which I suggest is indeed "technically incorrect" even if not everyone recognises it as particularly bad. But no-one endorses "I taken my sleeping tablet before I went to bed" - OP confuses the issue by citing a verb that people are often unsure about. –  FumbleFingers Aug 18 '12 at 14:24
    
You seem to be arguing at a skewed right angle. Nobody was talking about bare participles. –  tchrist Aug 18 '12 at 15:10
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