Look at the following sentences.

If I had have had to have, having had have previously had, it wouldn't be so difficult. But since I have not had to have, not previously having had, it will be difficult.

Are they grammatical?
Can you think how that would be represented using contractions?

  • 5
    It is clearly nonsense. I might almost understand something like 'If I had had to have, having previously had had, it wouldn't be so difficult. But since I have not had to have, not previously having had had, it will be difficult.' But this is not what you had. – Henry Mar 22 '11 at 11:02
  • 1
    This is not nonsense; it is a punctuation puzzle. See my answer below. – oosterwal Mar 22 '11 at 17:56

Clearly acceptable contractions include I'd, I've, I haven't and it wouldn't.

Going further, I'd've is common in speech and has been used in print (even though it looks 19th century to me) but cannot be used here as it is short for I would have not I had have.

I don't think anything like I've'd or I'd'd exist in speech or writing, so you need to stop there.

  • In speech, "I would have had" is often abbreviated "I'd've had," but I have never heard "I'd've'd." I suspect this sentence was constructed by somebody who didn't speak English well and expanded "I'd have had" to "I had have had." – Peter Shor Mar 22 '11 at 13:06
  • Interestingly, when people say I'd have had to [do something], it's not uncommon for had to be pronounced as HAT. I think most speakers know at the subconcious level that the verb "have" has many different senses, so we try to differentiate the pronunciation if multiple senses occur in a single utterance. – FumbleFingers Mar 22 '11 at 14:45
  • @FumbleFingers: I think you'll find that those people who devoice the /d/ of "had" before "to" do so irrespective of the context, and those who don't, don't. I don't think the "have had" has any bearing on it. – Colin Fine Mar 22 '11 at 18:06
  • But would it be devoiced before "I had too much" or "I had two giraffes"? This is the other sense of had that is being distinguished. – Peter Shor Mar 23 '11 at 15:02
  • To expand on my previous comment, if I devoice the /d/ in "I had too much", it sounds to me like much is being used as a verb. And since this has the same stress pattern as "I had to march", the devoicing isn't being influenced by stress. I think it's a signifier of the meaning of "had". – Peter Shor Mar 23 '11 at 17:58

This looks like a punctuation puzzle.

Like the puzzle in the included link, the quote in the OP's question is missing some quote marks around some key sub-phrases. Consider the following corrections:

If I had 'have had to have', having had 'have previously had', it wouldn't be so difficult.
But since I have 'not had to have', not previously having 'had', it will be difficult.

The speaker is commenting on the difficulty of rephrasing something that they had written or spoken at an earlier time.

  • If the word contractions is intended to mean punctuation then you might have a point. But even then, for example, you cannot tell whether it was not previously having 'had' or was not 'previously having had', so if it is a puzzle then it is ambiguous. – Henry Mar 22 '11 at 19:09

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