EN: it is/was the first time (that) + tense

millonthefloss

New Member
arabic
hi, i have some difficulties with the appropriate tense to use after the pattern:"it was the first time".given that we generally use the past perfect.but in the following sentence it wasn't the case:In last night's final Mark peters defeated Ed Myers in 3 sets."It was the first time" in six attempts that peters has beaten the world champion.thank you in advance for the whole explanations.
 
  • baker589

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It should be 'had beaten'. I'm afraid I can't really explain why. Has beaten just sounds wrong. Normally, however, it is followed by the perfect tense. (Please correct me if you disagree!)
     

    geostan

    Senior Member
    English Canada
    The correct sequence is:

    This is the first time that he has beaten...
    That/This was the first time that he had beaten...

    Note that to translate this into French […], the present tense is used in the first sentence, the imperfect in the second.

    N.B. I'm referring to the verbs in the subordinate clause.
     
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    baker589

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think I may have stumbled upon the rule: when we say 'this was the first time THAT', we go on to use the pluperfect and when we say 'this was the first time' without the 'that', we just use the perfect tense.
     

    geostan

    Senior Member
    English Canada
    With or without "that" the tenses remain the same. Try it with the main verb in the present and you'll see that the tense of the subordinate clause remains the same.

    This is the first time (that) he has been in London. You cannot replace has been with is.

    Similarly, putting the sentence back in the past, you would say:

    This was the first time (that) he had been in London.
     
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    baker589

    Senior Member
    English - England
    This was the first time he played the guitar
    This was the first time that he had played the guitar.

    That's the example I used for my rule (amongst others), however I do take your point: it doesn't seem to work.

    Perhaps someone who learnt English as a second language knows a rule?

    N.B. 'This is the first time (that) he went to London' does work. I could see this being said while showing photos or something. The that has nothing to do with it, as geostan says.
     
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    millonthefloss

    New Member
    arabic
    It should be 'had beaten'. I'm afraid I can't really explain why. Has beaten just sounds wrong. Normally, however, it is followed by the perfect tense. (Please correct me if you disagree!)
    you are right but i have found either of the rule and the example in :"Advanced grammar in use Cambridge University press"unit 3 page 7, so i doubt that it has been a mistake .however, the rule expounded in this book says that we "generally" use the past perfect , so the question remains for the others cases.
     

    L'Inconnu

    Senior Member
    US
    English
    If I were talking about an event that happened yesterday, I would say:

    ‘It was the first time in six attempts that Peters beat the world champion.’
    ‘C’était la première fois dans six tentatives que Peters a battu le champion du monde.’

    If I had just seen the event, however, I would say:

    ‘It is the first time in six attempts that Peters has beaten the world champion.’
    ‘C’est la première fois dans six tentatives que Peters a battu le champion du monde.’

    If I were to apply the past perfect to a sentence using the phrase ‘It was the first time’, I would say:

    ‘It was the first time that Peters beat the world champion. He had lost 5 times before.’
    ‘C’était la première fois que Peters a battu le champion du monde. Il avait perdu 5 fois auparavant.
     
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    itka

    Senior Member
    français
    I'm not sure of the meaning of the english sentences, but the french ones are not correct (the "concordance des temps" is mandatory).

    C’était la première fois dans six tentatives que Peters a battu le champion du monde.:cross:
    C'était la première fois en six tentatives que Peters battait le champion du monde.

    C’est la première fois dans six tentatives que Peters a battu le champion du monde.:cross:
    C'est la première fois en six tentatives que Peters bat le champion du monde.

    C’était la première fois que Peters a battu le champion du monde. Il avait perdu 5 fois auparavant:cross:
    C’était la première fois que Peters battait le champion du monde. Il avait perdu 5 fois auparavant.
     

    francis0077

    Senior Member
    French
    Well, l'expression it's the first time est suivie du present perfect
    It's the first time I've seen her
    Donc logiquement on dit ( CF Murphy) it was the first time I had seen her.
    toutefois j'ai souvent lu et entendu : It was the first time saw her. Une simplification de plus!
     

    L'Inconnu

    Senior Member
    US
    English
    C’était la première fois que Peters battait le champion du monde.
    Mais, si l’on utilisait l’imparfait on ne saurait pas le résultat! On pourrait également finir la proposition comme suit:

    "Malgré tout, le champion a renversé les marques et il a fini par gagner même le sixième match! Il reste toujours le champion du monde!!!!"

    Si l’on utilise le passé composé on saura le résultat comme un fait accompli!

    Perhaps someone who learnt English as a second language knows a rule?
    Well, if you want actual grammar rules:

    If we don’t specify when the match took place, we have two choices:

    ‘Peters beat the world champion’:tick:
    ‘Peters has beaten the world champion.’:tick:

    However, since ‘has beaten’ is our present tense, we can’t say:
    Yesterday Peters has beaten the world champion’ :cross:

    It follows that the following sentence is probably wrong, because ‘was’ is the past tense.
    “It was the first time in six attempts that Peters has beaten the world champion.”:cross:

    On the other hand, we can say:
    Yesterday, Peters beat the world champion.”:tick:

    So, the following sentence is probably correct.
    “It was the first time in six attempts that Peters beat the world champion.”:tick:

    […]
     
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    baker589

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I still think that It was the first time that Peters had beaten the world champion sounds better than It was the first time that Peters beat the world champion.
     

    L'Inconnu

    Senior Member
    US
    English
    Well, about the past perfect. That’s just what my grammar says, and you wanted a fixed rule. I should have added that the following sentence is probably correct too. Since ‘is’ is present tense, presumably it agrees with present perfect.

    “It is the first time in six attempts that Peters has beaten the world champion.”
     

    Nicomon

    Senior Member
    Français, Québec ♀
    "C’était la première fois que Peters battait le champion du monde."

    Mais, si l’on utilisait l’imparfait on ne saurait pas le résultat! […] Si l’on utilise le passé composé on saura le résultat comme un fait accompli! […]
    Je suis entièrement d'accord avec itka. Tu ne peux pas, dans cette phrase, remplacer battait par a battu.

    À mon avis, pour utiliser la passé composé on doit inverser la phrase et éliminer le verbe être.

    Ce qui donne une phrase comme :
    Hier, Peters a battu le champion du monde pour la première fois en six tentatives. Il avait perdu les cinq premiers matches.
     
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    L'Inconnu

    Senior Member
    US
    English
    Je suis entièrement d'accord avec itka. Tu ne peux pas, dans cette phrase, remplacer battait par a battu.
    Maintenant je comprends que le passé composé n’est pas forcément le bon choix dans ce cas, mais je pense qu’on peut utiliser le plus-que-parfait pour exprimer un fait accompli.

    ‘C'était la première fois que Peters avait battu le champion du monde.’
    ‘It was the first time that Peters had beaten the world champion.’


    In English we can use three tenses to express a completed action at given moment in time: the simple past, the present perfect, and the past perfect. For simple actions, we normally use the simple past tense, but the present perfect tense is more emphatic. When we use the present perfect tense, however, we have to be careful NOT to specify that the action happened at an earlier time. So getting back to your earlier question, you can use the present perfect after ‘it is the first time’, but not after ‘it was the first time’

    ‘It is the first time that Peters has beaten the world champion’:tick:
    ‘It was the first time that Peters has beaten the world champion.’:cross:

    As for the past perfect tense, we use it to express the fact that we had done something before we did something else. So, if we are talking about an event that had happened some time ago, we could say:

    ‘It had been the first time that Peters beat the world champion.’

    But the above sentence is saying something different than the first two. Now we expect that Peters also beat the world champion on later occasions.

    ‘Since then, Peters has beaten the world champion three more times.’

    When I say ‘then’, I am referring to the past, but in this case ‘then’ refers to the day when he scored his first victory. That event was in the past. We could change the above sentence to:

    "Now he has three more victories against the champion."


    We can say either of the two following phrases:

    ‘It is the first time that Peters has won.’
    ‘It was the first time that Peters had won.’

    What has only just now occurred to me is that even though both statements are grammatically correct, they aren’t saying the same thing. The first statement says that although we expect more matches will follow, up to now Peter has scored only one victory; hence the reason we are using our present tense. From our point of view the rivalry between Peters and the world champion is still an on going affaire. However, the second statement refers to events that are over and done with. We know that after his first victory he went on to win at least one other match.

    Americans would probably accept ‘It was the first time that Peters won’, understanding it to mean the same thing as ‘had won’, but I am no longer sure it’s grammatically correct. We aren’t in the habit of using the past perfect, even when we are supposed to.

    Sorry for the confusion, but I think I have it straight now.
     
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    baker589

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Perhaps for the benefit of millonthefloss, we can try and reach a conclusion:

    BE: It was the first time in six attempts that Peters had beaten the world champion.

    AE: It was the first time in six attempts that Peters beat the world champion.

    Would everyone agree with that?
     

    geostan

    Senior Member
    English Canada
    No. Canadian and American English are closer than Canadian and British English, although there are certainly differences. As a Canadian, I would not use the simple past in this example. For me, "had beaten" is the correct form.
     
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    L'Inconnu

    Senior Member
    US
    English
    I still think the key is to focus on what we really mean to say, while keeping the grammar rules in mind. The grammar book says we MUST use the past perfect if we use 'for the first time' and we don’t specify a time point.

    “It was the first time Peters had beaten the world champion.”:tick:
    “It was the first time that Peters beat the world champion.”:cross:

    The first sentence implies that Peters played the champion numerous times in the past and Peters won more than once. The second is ambiguous, but in the context of a historical account it would most likely be taken to have the same meaning as the first one. If we DO specify a time point, however, we have the OPTION of using either the simple past tense or the past perfect tense.

    “Peters beat the world champion for the first time yesterday.”

    The above sentence tells us that up to now Peters has won only once. We could go on to say, ‘the record is now 5-1 in favor of the champion.’

    “Peters had beaten the world champion for the first time in 1996.”

    Not only did Peters win in 1996, but he played and won other matches against the champion since that time. We could go on to say “Peters went on to win again in 1998 and in 2001, giving him a total of three career victories against the champion.”
     
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    jack59

    Senior Member
    français
    I learnt this rule: "It's the first time (second time....) I have read this book. We have to use the present perfect in the second part. In French: "c'est la première fois que je lis ce livre"
    But recently, I learnt "this would be the first time she met Baby Zoe". Of course we have to apply the tense sequencing but why it's not: ..........she had met Baby Zoe.
     

    guillaumedemanzac

    Senior Member
    English - Southern England Home Counties
    It's the second time I have seen this film. --- makes more sense than your example which is unlikely (context?).

    This will be her first meeting with the President. This will be the first time she has (ever) met the President. (future meeting planned)

    This would be the first time she had (ever) met the president. (If it ever happened!! - unlikely for some obscure reason).

    I don't think Americans use the past perfect so your example may be correct in USA but incorrect in UK. (I suspect a lot of people say it when the teacher is not present).
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    I'd say "It was the first time..." if we know the moment in the past we're referring to. "It was the first time I had met ..." means, for me, that you had (met X, skied...) again after that. "This is/will be the first time (that) I (etc) + present perfect..." is correct and most commonly used to talk about something that is about to happen.
     
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