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The sentence in question is: “in this room are all the things that she thought belonged to her, but that they have never had”

Thank you so much in advance to whoever answers! This is greatly appreciated.

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    It's an "unusual" (not "incorrect") mix of tenses. But whilst I can't see that it would make any semantic difference, I think it might be a little less unusual if the final "perfect" verb form echoed the past tense of immediately-preceding thought rather than the earlier present tense are. That's to say, replace Present Perfect with Past Perfect ...that they had never had. – FumbleFingers Jan 16 '19 at 13:37
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This answer is based on an interpretation of the sentence, which is that the writer meant to write that all the things had never belonged to her, not that she did never possess all the things

Let's look at in in parts.

  • "in this room are all the things that..." is the main part of the sentence, is correct and is of no influence on the correctness of the remaining part of the sentence whatsoever.
  • "she thought belonged to her" is the first subordinate clause formulated in the simple past tense.
  • ", but that" adds another subordinate clause.
  • "they have never had (+ belonged to her)" is the second subordinate clause formulated in a faulty tense. First, the 'they' should be removed because the object of the subordinate is already 'all the things' (unnecessary repetition). Second, the tense that the writer is trying to compose is past perfect (had belonged), but instead he/she writes 'have had belonged', which makes no sense.

The result is: "in this room are all the things that she thought belonged to her, but that never had".

| improve this answer | |
  • You can’t say ‘but that never had’. You could say ‘but never had’ though, that would be ok. – Jelila Jan 17 '19 at 9:19

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