Expression of the time

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Utah777, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. Utah777 Senior Member

    Japanese
    Hi, I have a question about the time expression as in the example below.
    Last Wednesday, I visited my grandparents' house. I haven' t seen them for some time, so I wanted to write it on Facebook.

    ex) It was the first time to see them during three years.

    ex2) It was the first time to see them for three years.

    ※I want to say that I haven't seen grandparents for three years.

    How do these examples sound like to you? If not, please tell me what to say to convey the same meaning as ※?

    Thank you in advance.
     
  2. roxcyn

    roxcyn Senior Member

    USA
    American English [AmE]
    I would say:
    I haven't seen them in three years!
     
  3. djweaverbeaver Senior Member

    English Atlanta, GA USA
    Yes,

    None of your sentences work unfortunately. In addition to roxcyn's suggestion (but in keeping with the past tense that you started with), you might consider the following:

    It was the first time that I had seen them in three years. (Note the past perfect tense here)
    It was my first time seeing them in three years. (Note the gerund "seeing". We don't use an infinite here)
     
  4. Utah777 Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you both for your replies.
    As for your first example, djweaverbeaver, why should I use past perfect here?
    And the second example, according to the dictionary, the noun 'time' is usually followed by an infinitive. Why should it be the gerund?
     
  5. djweaverbeaver Senior Member

    English Atlanta, GA USA
    Hi Utah777,

    It was the first time that I had seen them in three years.

    We use the past perfect here because your main clause is in the past tense. The past prefect expresses a duration of time up until some other action in the past. If you were trying to express this in the present, then you would use the present perfect tense:

    It is the first time that I have seen them in three years. (You're considering a time span that started 3 years ago and continues to the present).

    As to your second question about my second example, in what dictionary did you see that and what did it say exactly? I'm afraid that you either misunderstood what they were saying or that the dictionary was wrong.
     
  6. Utah777 Senior Member

    Japanese
    Thank you for your reply.
    I consulted Oxford Advance Learner's Dictionary. According to the dictionary, the noun 'time' has 12 meanings and neither meaning is used with a gerund. For example, meaning 4, is that the time when < something > happens or when < something >
    should happen, we should use with an infinitive, a preposition 'for,' or that clause. :I think it's time to go to bed. It's time the kids were in bed.
    And the meaning we use above should be meaning 8 occasion/ event and it says that 'an occasion when you do sth or when sty happens. It adds that 'To talk about the first the last time you do sth, we use the first/ the last time (time) I... As you said, it mentions that it doesn't stay with an infinitive. Thank you for your kindness. However, I couldn't find any description that it should be followed by infinitives.

    < Edited to write out < something > in full. Cagey, moderator. >
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2015
  7. djweaverbeaver Senior Member

    English Atlanta, GA USA
    Hi again,

    What this entry for the word time doesn't tell is that the article that you uses make a great deal of difference in structure that follows. Notice that the structure is in the same for the definite article It was the first time that... and for the possessive article It's my/your/his/our first time + gerund. There are already many threads on this very structure:

    my first time (verb)-ing
    Will be my first time to

    This will be my first time (of) doing it?
     

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