General Writing and Grammar Help/Had had

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Question
Dear Ted,

Is the following sentence grammatically correct? Is OK the use of ‘had had’?

“The computers were sent to the vendor because of the incident our Company had had.”

Thank you,
Leonardo

Answer
Dear Leonardo:

Is the following sentence grammatically correct? Is OK the use of ‘had had’?

“The computers were sent to the vendor because of the incident our Company had had.”

*** "Had had" is the past perfect tense of the verb "to have."  The past perfect tense
is used when you are talking about TWO events, both of which occurred in the past.
The earlier of the two is placed in the past perfect, and the one which is closer to
the present is placed in the simple past.

Your sentence has two past events:  the sending of the computers and the causing incident
at the company.  The causing incident happened further back in the past, so "had had" is
correct.  The sending of the computers happened as a result of the earlier incident, so
"were sent" is placed in the simple past tense.

In short, your sentence is correctly written.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

Education/Credentials
B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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