It has been suggested in some quarters that had have, followed by a past participle, is a regionalism that has no place in standard English grammar.

If I had have known you were coming, I would have been prepared, or If I'd have known you were coming, I would have been prepared, mean essentially the same as If I had known you were coming..... But the former is often used for emphasis, and it sounds perfectly idiomatic to me.

So is had have seen etc. grammatically correct?

  • 1
    I have heard this form of grammar often, so I think it's a legitimate form to discuss. In terms of grammar books, I have never seen this, so "officially" I'd say no. Let's wait and see what some other contribute on this. Nov 27, 2015 at 10:16
  • Did you see this in writing, or hear it?...Because, I cannot recall seeing it in writing. Nov 27, 2015 at 10:17
  • @michael_timofeev - The are a few usage instances in Ngram, but I think it is a regional/dialectal usage.
    – user66974
    Nov 27, 2015 at 10:29
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    I would parse "If I'd have known" as "If I would have known", not "If I had have known". Perhaps the latter is a backformation from the contraction, since "I'd" represents "I had" more often than "I would"?
    – hobbs
    Mar 20, 2016 at 18:52
  • 2
    @hobbs I'm afraid I can't agree. Unless you think the English learned their English from Americans! (Not as silly as it might sound - it sometimes happens). But If I would have known... is definitely American in my view. In Britain it is had have.
    – WS2
    Mar 21, 2016 at 0:14

5 Answers 5


The had have construction in an if-clause is an example of what is commonly called the double perfect. This extract from grammar.about.com cites The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language's discussion of the usage, which it calls non-standard:

"Instead of an ordinary preterite perfect, a non-standard 'double perfect' is often found:

(9i) If it had've come yesterday he would surely have told her.
(9ii) I wish he hadn't've left.

This is largely restricted to speech (or the written representation of speech). It appears to be increasing in frequency, and though it is not as yet established as a standard form, it is used by many who in general speak standard English. From a grammatical point of view, it is a curious construction in that had is followed by a plain form, not a past participle; it is normally reduced to /əv/, and in writing is sometimes spelled of, indicating that it is not perceived as a form of have."

(Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, Cambridge University Press, 2002)

There's an extended discussion of the issue in Counterfactuality in non-standard subjunctive conditionals. The authors claim that there is a semantic difference between the standard and non-standard forms. Here is their opening section which offers references to possible explanations for the 'extra piece of morphology'.

  1. On standard and non-standard subjunctive conditionals: The data

English subjunctive conditionals can adopt different forms. The standard form of subjunctive conditionals (SC) is illustrated in (1). However, speakers of some dialects of English also accept some of the variants in (2) as subjunctive conditionals. The forms in (2) differ from (1) in that they include: would or had.

(1) If Jones had taken arsenic, he would have shown some symptoms. [SC]

(2) If Jones would have/ had have/ would’ve/ had’ve/ woulda’/ hada’/ would of / had of taken arsenic, he would have shown some symptoms. [NSSC]

The non-standard forms (NSSC) exemplified in (2) appeared in the 15th C, at the time when the subjunctive voice in English disappeared (Huddleston & Pullum 2002). While the NSSCs mark different registers, no differences have been observed in terms of interpretation between an NSSC and an SC. The extra piece of morphology has usually been considered vacuous: a redundant repetition (Wilson 1993), a phonological harmony effect (Molencki 2000), or a psychological effect (Boyland 1995).

The aim of this paper is two-fold: a) we present a novel empirical observation: we claim there is a contrast in meaning between (1) and (2); and b) we offer an analysis that predicts the differences in meaning.

  • I especially like phonological harmony - I think this is what I was meaning in the 2nd para of my answer!
    – Dan
    Nov 27, 2015 at 11:36
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    @Dan. Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage refers to the construction as the plupluperfect, which has its own phonological harmony! The MWDEU contends that the construction 'may simply represent an attempt by the speaker to impose a subjunctive marker on the standard past perfect'. This seems the most plausible explanation to me.
    – Shoe
    Nov 27, 2015 at 11:48
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    Thank you for this excellent answer. It is precisely the sort of thing I was seeking, following the discussion which arose under this OP
    – WS2
    Nov 27, 2015 at 18:19
  • If the authors of this paper would've written their conclusion in English, I would've understood it.
    – MetaEd
    Dec 10, 2015 at 23:46

If I had have known sounds like a 'regional' version of If I had known. The 'have' does not add any meaning as far as I can tell. The fact that I hear 'had have' often and even use it myself only confirms to me that it is idiomatic (and regional - Bristol UK at least) - it does not make it 'good English'!

I wonder if the usage arises simply because the construction had have sounds like might have, should have, could have etc ?

It's certainly 'out there' - Ngram I'd've.


I suspect that this form only works in a conditional phrase, typically preceded by if, such as this from a UK Parliament committee (Q264)

I am delighted to hear that you visited Newport and you could have dropped in for a cup of tea if I had have known, and I would have brought you up to date that it is no longer called the Patent Office

but even there had known would work as well as had have known.


I don't know what tense is had have + past participle' As what I know, it should be 'Had + past participle of the verb'

I hope it helps.

  • Hello, Erlyn. If you read Shoe's answer, you'll see the standard of response ELU hopes will be provided. Nov 27, 2015 at 12:09

verbix.com has the conjugation tables of standard English in the best form. See table for to do here

Of course, there may be regional variants, but they aren't standard English.

Only in past perfect "had" (past tense) is followed by a second verb form, and that is "had"(past participle). An infinitive is not possible.

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