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The tree was planted by settlers who founded the city over 400 years ago. What was done first? planted the tree or founded the city . Would it be clearer if it was had founded because I suppose the foundation was first. May be the date the tree was planted is not important or maybe both action were done almost at the same time

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  • It's perfectly clear and natural as it stands. If the city had been destroyed by some catastrophe, you might prefer had founded. Either way, it's fine. Jan 16 at 17:41
  • does founded mean that the city still exist and that action is not completed
    – Yves Lefol
    Jan 16 at 17:43
  • so what came first?
    – Yves Lefol
    Jan 16 at 17:44
  • No. Both are possible. Native speakers mix them up all the time. The past perfect simply serves to emphasise the sequence of actions when that's the speaker's intention. Jan 16 at 18:39
  • If both meanings are possible the sentence is unclear so is it because in fact we don't know what was done first (planted or founded)
    – Yves Lefol
    Jan 17 at 7:30
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I'd argue that the sentence intends to convey that the founders of the the city planted the tree. Given the 400-year time frame, it would be reasonable to believe that the founding and the tree planting both happened about 400 years ago.

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