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I want to find out why "a eu" is the right tense, not "avait".

Il a toujours eu un sens aigu des limites du savoir humain.


Il avait toujours un sens aigu des limites du savoir humain.

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    Both are right. It depends on what you want to say. Maybe you should clarify the context. – Stéphane Gimenez Mar 11 at 1:23
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"avait" is imparfait, and implies that the action is over, by two means:

  • the action is over (narration is in present tense)
  • the narration is in past tense, and the action is ongoing in the time you're describing, but over now.

Here I assume it's present tense. If you say:

Il avait toujours un sens aigu des limites du savoir humain.

it means that the action is over, so now, the "acute sense" is gone.

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It depends if you want to use the passé composé or the imparfait

Verbe avoir - Passé composé
j'ai eu
tu as eu
il a eu
nous avons eu
vous avez eu
ils ont eu

For further details I would suggest you to read this link.

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    Of course but that doesn't answer the question. Why would you use the passé composé and not the imparfait here? – Gilles Mar 11 at 9:47
  • As Stéphane Gimenez said we need more context in order to make this choice, so I have planned to update my reply once we know the context – Ced Mar 11 at 10:13

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