How do you express that a particular-unknown/undefined item performed a action?

Usually I would start my sentence with "I didn't knew that..." indicating a general unawareness. A possible completion for the sentence would be "this stove was installed", given the result, "I didn't knew that this stove was installed".

but what about when its not "this stove", but a stove far-away: "that stove"?
"I didn't knew that THAT stove was installed"?!?!?!?!?!?!?

  • ?!?!?!?!?!?!? One punctuation mark is enough.
    – Greybeard
    Apr 29, 2021 at 10:36

2 Answers 2


There is nothing wrong with "that that."

Now, there is something wrong with saying, "I didn't knew...." The verb phrase is "didn't know" because the helping verb "did" is already in the past tense, calling for the ensuing verb to be in the to-free infinitive form (i.e., "know," not "to know").

With the above in mind, you would write:

"I didn't know that that stove was installed."

Since the first "that," the "that" that follows the verb and introduces the relative clause, can be left unsaid in English, you could also simply write:

"I didn't know that stove was installed." (i.e., "I didn't know [that] that stove was installed.")

Anyway, people say "that that" all the time. There's nothing wrong or even weird about it. It's extremely common. The pronunciation is a little different, though. When people say "that that," how they pronounce it is "thet that." Nobody ever says the two the same, meaning the first "that" doesn't rhyme with the second "that," which rymes with "cat" and "hat." Instead, the first "that" rhymes with "bet" and "let."

  • It seems that the vowel a in the first "that" is not pronounced as in "bed", but instead that it is reduced (as in "adrift"): forum.wordreference.com/threads/that-that-pronunciation.3633205.
    – LPH
    Apr 29, 2021 at 9:18
  • If you were doing something when someone hit you for no obvious reason, I could validly ask What were you doing before that that that person objected to? The first "that" would get heavy stress, the second would be very unstressed (with a truly "minimalist" schwa for a vowel), and the third would be "normal" (neither stressed nor unstressed). But I wouldn't normally leave any of them out (that really would sound weird! :) Apr 29, 2021 at 11:12

Yeah, I would agree with Benjamin. The first "that" could be normally left out to avoid any recurrence.

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