Has and Had

The simplest way to tell if a writer or editor is giving you bad advice? They tell you to cut or avoid all uses of HAS and HAD.

That’s a rookie mistake.

HAS and HAD aren’t words to avoid. Along with being a main verb in their own right (showing possession, ownership, or necessity), they’re also auxiliary verbs used with past participles (worked, loved, eaten) to form the perfect tenses.

 

HAS plus the past participle creates the present perfect tense: I have worked; she has eaten; we have been kicked. The present perfect shows action which began and finished before present time.

HAD with the past participle denotes the past perfect tense: I had worked; she had eaten; we had been kicked. The past perfect shows action which began and finished before (recent) past time.

These two tenses can be very important to the way a narrative is told and to the reader’s understanding of the timeline of events in the story. These are powerful tools when wielded correctly; don’t avoid them.

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