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I found the following paragraph in the article with the caption, "That Settles It: Yoko Ono Did Not Break Up Beatles” in Entertainment section of October 30 Time magazine:

The Japanese artist and musician, who was had married John Lennon shortly before the Beatles disbanded, has long been blamed for pulling the group apart. But, according to a preview of the Frost interview that appeared in The Guardian, McCartney dispels that notion. “[Ono] certainly didn’t break the group up, the group was breaking up,” he is quoted as saying.

I felt somewhat harsh on my ear with the expression- “was had” in the line “The Japanese artist and musician, who was had married John Lennon shortly before the Beatles disbanded, has long been blamed for pulling the group apart.”

Are both “was / had" necessary before 'married' in this sentence? Why is it? Can’t we say simply “The Japanese artist and musician, who had married John Lennon shortly before the Beatles disbanded,”

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    This is what I would call a "word-processor error": some writer or editor had written something like "The Japanese artist and musician, who married John Lennon shortly before ..." — and then decided to write "was married to" and changed it to "had married" or something and took out the "to" but forgot to remove the "was" from the sentence. It is an error, plain and simple.
    – Robusto
    Oct 31, 2012 at 1:31
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    @Yoichi Oishi- Good catch. Maybe they should hire you as their copy editor.
    – Jim
    Oct 31, 2012 at 1:50
  • What @Robusto said. It looks exactly like the kind of error writers make with word-processors today, that they'd have been less likely to make in the days of pen and paper. Oct 31, 2012 at 3:04
  • Why on earth do two people want to re-open this question? Nov 1, 2012 at 1:01

1 Answer 1

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In the sentence "The Japanese artist and musician, who was had married John Lennon shortly before the Beatles disbanded, has long been blamed for pulling the group apart", having was had makes it ungrammatical. It has to be one of the following to be grammatical idiomatic English:

..., who was married to John Lennon...
..., who had married John Lennon...
or
..., who married John Lennon...

This is probably an example of spell-checker copy-editing.

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    Not sure about your first option; it suggests she had stopped being married to him by the time they split up. I think your third option is by far the best. But have a +1.
    – user16269
    Oct 31, 2012 at 1:00
  • This is typical AmE. However, I agree with your analysis. I too think the third one is best, but I'm sure that not all native speakers will agree on that.
    – user21497
    Oct 31, 2012 at 1:09
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    I don't understand how how "spell-checker copy-editing" could cause such an error. It seems far more likely to me the original writer started with either was or had, but had second thoughts and switched to the other. And simply failed to correctly erase the first choice for some reason (having third thoughts, maybe, and unable to decide which to delete! :) Oct 31, 2012 at 1:23
  • A spell checker would not underline either word, but a grammar checker would. I can turn off the grammar checker in MS Word. I can also turn off the spell checker. In any case, the piece wasn't properly copy-edited by the writer or the copy editor. If all they use is the spell checker, they won't catch such errors, which is why I always have both the spell checker and the grammar checker on. I frequently hallucinate when editing and think I've erased that wrong first choice. The grammar checker usually brings me back to reality.
    – user21497
    Oct 31, 2012 at 3:33

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