Haven’t had enough of have

I’m not done ranting about have, had, and has.

Look at this passage from Jill Lepore’s brilliant history of the U.S.

“In December, he’d answered reporters.” So at this moment, we know she’s taking us back in time. From this point on, she can use the ordinary past tense. But she waffles, from sentence to sentence. “He said” (past tense). “Muhammad had ordered” (there it is again). “He delivered” (past tense). “That vantage had brought him” (there it is again).

In each of these instances, had is unnecessary. And her editors let her get away with it. It’s almost as if we think more hads make us more sophisticated or something.

They don’t. They make our writing gummy.

To have, or have not? I vote for have not.

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