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What does “had had” mean? How does this differ from “had”?

I had had so many interruptions this morning that I scarcely had done any work
I had had so many interruptions this morning that I scarcely have done any work
I had had so many interruptions this morning that I scarcely did any work

Am confused whether to use, did/ had done/ have done after the adverb scarcely. I already referred a post on had had usage which is entirely different.

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marked as duplicate by Mark Beadles, MετάEd, Andrew Leach, Matt E. Эллен, FumbleFingers Oct 3 '12 at 16:10

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

If you are using "this" morning, then you should say, "I have had..." otherwise it should be I had had so many [...] that morning ... (talking about some morning in the past). – Jim Oct 3 '12 at 14:57
Imho, "...that I scarcely had/have done any work" is either archaic or stilted. The modern natural phrasing is "...that I had/have scarcely done any work". – FumbleFingers Oct 3 '12 at 16:10
@miracles: I don't use LMHO - that's imho - in my humble opinion. I get in the habit of adding that caveat to many things I say here on ELU, because if I say something is archaic/stilted, there's nearly always someone who says "Where I come from, that's perfectly normal English". – FumbleFingers Oct 4 '12 at 13:20
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The specific word choice depends on context, but the most important thing to remember is that your entire sentence must be in the same tense. If it's still the morning in question, you can use:

I have had so many interruptions this morning that I have scarcely done any work.

Later in the day you could still use the above, but you might instead say:

I had so many interruptions this morning that I did scarcely any work.

And, if you were referring to events that took place after the interruptions or that might have taken place if you had remained uninterrupted, on a subsequent day you could say:

I had had so many interruptions that morning that I had scarcely done any work.

You may notice that I modified the word order a bit from your original question. This is a matter of personal style; you can insert the adverb 'scarcely' in any of a few positions in the sentence without sacrificing much clarity, but some readers may find my order a bit more natural.

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Lets put it this way, its not in the morning, its in the later part of the day. I dont have any issues with had had usage, but the next part, namely did/ had done/ have done. I feel, 'did' can be used, but also feel 'have done' fits too! – miracles Oct 3 '12 at 15:41
If you're talking about the same day, you would probably want to use the present perfect instead of the past perfect tense: "I have had so many interruptions this morning that I have done scarcely any work." The key here is to ensure that your entire sentence uses the same tense. I'll edit my answer with this info, too. – Simon Jester Oct 3 '12 at 17:25

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