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If we have one action, we can use Past Simple/Past Continuous

I found out

If we have two actions, we can use Past Perfect/Past Perfect Continuous for the one which is the most ancient and Past Simple/Continuous for the younger action.

I found out that they had confessed

But what if we have more than 2 actions? How to denote that some of the actions happened even earlier than the Past Perfect action occured?

If it were possible to add the infinite amount of "had", it would be easier:

I found out that they had confessed they she had had stolen the car which had had had been bought by the people who had had had had been born here.

But since it's not the correct thing to do, I am stuck and depressed with what to do and how to live further... :(

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  • 2 weeks later...

Come on, you don't need to feel depressed on the limit of human language that our ancestors have used for thousands of years!

Seriously though, there's no way to precisely express what you want. A natural language is not a computer language, which *can* be extended logically. In your case, you either just continue to use "had stolen" with one "had", and let the reader infer from the context, or break the sentence up.

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It depends on the language you're learning from.
West European languages have this concept, east Asian languages don't.

In English you'd put "have" or "had" in front of a past tense verb.
Dutch and German both have an entirely different verb.
Like with the example of "to steal" in Dutch: "steel" in past tense = "steelde", which in past perfect would be "gestolen".

As for east Asian and east European languages, past perfect doesn't exist, so past tense is used instead.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello Thou

I see your point here and it really makes sense. I haven’t thought about it before, thanks. But it is not something to be depressed about, right? Languages have rules and we just have to obey the rules, that’s all. I guess there are a lot of examples like yours in every language. 

For example, French numbers (from 70 to 90) always make my brain work harder: 70 in French is literally “sixty-ten,” soixante-dix, 73 — soixante-treize (sixty + thirteen). If that was easy, then look at 80 that is quatre-vingts, or “four twenties”, 81 — quatre-vingt-un (sounds like "four twenty one"). The number 90 is “four+twenty+ ten,” 97 — quatre-vingt-dix-sept (4+20+7).

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5 hours ago, Kathryn Mackie said:

For example, French numbers (from 70 to 90) always make my brain work harder: 70 in French is literally “sixty-ten,” soixante-dix, 73 — soixante-treize (sixty + thirteen). If that was easy, then look at 80 that is quatre-vingts, or “four twenties”, 81 — quatre-vingt-un (sounds like "four twenty one"). The number 90 is “four+twenty+ ten,” 97 — quatre-vingt-dix-sept (4+20+7).

Oh yea, French counting.
I heard lots of horror stories about that.

For example number 98, in Dutch and German it's 8 and 90.
In Polish and English it's 90 8.
And in Japanese it's 9 10 8.

The French way of (4 * 20) + (10 + 8) is probably something I'd never get used to with my limited maths abilities.

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