Had they have gone to the same place, they would have talked to one another.

Is the sentence above acceptable? If not, then what is a proper way of saying this?

2 Answers 2


I think what you are trying to say is related to what is known as third conditional, which is used for things that didn't happen in the past. Here are a couple of examples that might be of help:

If he hadn't gone to school, he wouldn't have had an accident.

This means that he did go to school and that's why he had an accident. We are just adding a condition. Period.

It can also be said the following way:

Hadn't he gone to school, he wouldn't have had an accident.

It means the same thing. Just a bit shorter.

  • I don't think "Hadn't he gone to school" works as a dependent clause.
    – user53907
    Dec 16, 2013 at 4:20
  • @rebecca I think it does
    – Noah
    Dec 16, 2013 at 4:36
  • @Rebecca No, it doesn't. Prove me wrong:)
    – Noah
    Jan 13, 2014 at 6:52
  • 1
    I can't prove it. But I've also never come across that construction in either spoken or formal American English. To my ear, "Hadn't he gone to school?" stands as an independent clause, like "Didn't he go to school?" If I wanted to subordinate it, I'd say, "If he hadn't gone to school" or "Had he not gone to school." But if the latter works, your construction should work too, I suppose. I just don't think it does. As a subordinate clause, "Hadn't he gone to school" seems arcane. But "to my ear" and "I don't think" and "seems" are no argument and no proof.
    – user53907
    Jan 15, 2014 at 19:03

The two simplest alternatives to your current sentence are likely: "Had they gone…" and "If they had gone…", both of which are proper English and retain what I believe is your intended meaning.

  • I thought as much. Thank you. I take it "had they have" is not acceptable at all, then, or is it just superfluous (if you will), considering that there are simpler forms of this structure - such as the ones you pointed out?
    – Yusuf
    Dec 15, 2013 at 2:48
  • I'm not necessarily certain that the grammar of the original sentence is technically improper, though it certainly sounds odd to my ear. I would recommend "If they had gone to the same place, they would have talked to one another." assuming you are asserting that IF they had (in the past) been at the same place (and likely referencing a particular place) then they would, inevitably, have spoken with one another.
    – Zyniker
    Dec 15, 2013 at 4:28

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