Should I use “have” or “had” in this sentence?

The person I’m talking to says something like “Did you just insult my sense of humor?”

Then I reply “I didn’t say you __ one”

Should I use “have” or “had”?

I’m trying to convey that he doesn’t have one but using “had” sounds like it limits it to past tense.

Answer

It’s okay to say have.

Generally, those of us who have studied Latin are focussed on the sequence of tenses in these sentences. From that perspective, either of the following are correct:

I didn’t say you had one.

I don’t say you have one.

In English, at least, it is fine to use the present, especially in less formal contexts:

I didn’t say you have one.

A general discussion of the issue can be found here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *