Page:A Desk-Book of Errors in English.djvu/117

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guess
had
Errors in English

been used by writers of correct English and it may be found repeatedly in the English Classics. Therefore, it is generally considered good usage and preferable to would better which, though correct, is seldom heard and usually considered pedantic.

had, have: In such a phrase as "Had I have heard of it," the verb have is redundant, for had here is used elliptically for if I had, and carries the contingency to the past. Care should be taken to avoid such locutions as the example given which is one of a class that stamps those who make use of them as grossly ignorant.

had ought: The use of any part of the verb have with ought is a vulgarism. Not "I had ought to have written," but simply "I ought to have written"; not "He hadn't ought to have done it," but "He ought not to have done it."

had rather, had better: Forms disputed by certain critics, from the days of Samuel Johnson, the critics insisting upon the substitution of would or should, as the case may demand, for had; but had rather and had better are thoroughly established English idioms having the almost universal popular and literary sanction of centuries. "I would rather not go" is undoubtedly correct when the purpose is to emphasize the element of choice or will in the matter; but in all ordinary cases "I had rather not go" has the

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