This is the first time I'm doing

Sasha Ivanov

Senior Member
Russian
Yesterday, I got so frustrated. I said, once, to a native "This is the first time I'm watching the movie" and he corrected me, he said "We don't say it like that, we say, I've watched". I looked it up in Michael Swan's grammar book and yes, there's a rule: with "this is the first, second... time"
we use "I've seen the man, I've heard the song, etc", even when you're in the process of hearing the song, the song is still playing, you still say "This is the first time I've heard the song".
Okay, I accepted it. Yesterday, I was watching a stream and typed in chat
"Is this the first time you've played the game?" - it still looked off to me, I was uncomfortable putting it like that, but I had known by then that there was the rule.
And she lively replied - "Yes, this is the first time I'm playing the game."
I was stunned, I felt like dirt, there were so many native speakers in chat, who read my question and knew instantly that English is not my first language, that I said it in a way a native would never say it. It was just weirdly put. You'd never see a native in chat put it that way. But I thought there was the rule, I felt it was off, but what about the rule?
 
  • Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    You're taking language-learning way too seriously if one grammatical error can make you feel like dirt.

    In any case, you did not make an error.There's nothing wrong with how you asked the question, and it certainly didn't brand you as a non-native speaker. Her response was non-standard.
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Not every native speaker uses perfect, by-the-book English all the time. I would imagine that's true of native speakers of other languages as well.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Is this the first time you've played the game?" :tick::thumbsup:
    "Yes, this is the first time I'm playing the game." :confused::thumbsdown:
    "Yes, I’m playing the game for the first time today." :tick:
     

    Sasha Ivanov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you. Maybe there's a more relaxed way of asking that, that's why she mid-sentence switched to that?
    Maybe I should've asked, and the majority of people would say it simpler, maybe:
    Are you playing this for the first time?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Your question was perfectly idiomatic. The reply was not – even in AE, I suspect. “Are you playing this for the first time?” would be fine too.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    She says she's American, for one thing, and maybe she is but that doesn't mean her English is good. Many native speakers make serious mistakes but many Americans in my experience speak fluent English as a second language, riddled with mistakes, the most common of which are the tenses.
     
    Last edited:

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Yesterday, I got so frustrated. I said, once, to a native "This is the first time I'm watching the movie" and he corrected me, he said "We don't say it like that, we say, I've watched". I looked it up in Michael Swan's grammar book and yes, there's a rule: with "this is the first, second... time"
    we use "I've seen the man, I've heard the song, etc", even when you're in the process of hearing the song, the song is still playing, you still say "This is the first time I've heard the song".
    Okay, I accepted it. Yesterday, I was watching a stream and typed in chat
    "Is this the first time you've played the game?" - it still looked off to me, I was uncomfortable putting it like that, but I had known by then that there was the rule.
    And she lively replied - "Yes, this is the first time I'm playing the game."
    I was stunned, I felt like dirt, there were so many native speakers in chat, who read my question and knew instantly that English is not my first language, that I said it in a way a native would never say it. It was just weirdly put. You'd never see a native in chat put it that way. But I thought there was the rule, I felt it was off, but what about the rule?
    Mr. Swan makes this distinction in "Practical English Usage:"

    This is the first time that I've heard her sing (not this is the first time I hear her sing)*.

    Mr. Swan doesn't say anything about "This is the first time I'm hearing her sing" (not in the book I have, anyway).

    And so, what's wrong with "This is the first time I'm watching the movie" and "This is the first time I'm playing the game"? The objection seems to be that "first time" refers to a "point" in time, not to "duration" in time. Accordingly, as soon as you start playing the game, the "first time" is gone, and so we say "This is the first time I've watched the movie" and "This is the first time I've played the game," even if you are still watching the movie/playing the game. Or, you sidestep the issue by rewording the sentence: "Yes. I'm playing the game for the first time today."

    Now, does all this pass linguistic muster? Is there a "grammatical rule" that prohibits the use of the progressive with "This is the first time"? Well, not for the girl in chat. She says This is the first time I'm playing the game precisely because she is still playing the game. Even if there were such a rule (and there isn't), for her, pragmatics (i.e., "context," what's happening at the time) guides her syntax.

    And I've heard people say This is the first time I'm hearing about this! either when they are in the middle of being told something unexpected, or when they've just been told something unexpected.

    (*By the way, We usually use the present tense for habitual or expected actions, and since "This is the first time I hear this song" is neither habitual nor expected, "I hear her sing" sounds out of place.)
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Just because she replied with her own version doesn't necessarily mean she was trying to correct you.

    I agree that your question was good, (and for me it was the only correct way to ask it).
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Just because she replied with her own version doesn't necessarily mean she was trying to correct you.
    I agree.
    Is there a "grammatical rule" that prohibits the use of the progressive with "This is the first time"? Well, not for the girl in chat. She says This is the first time I'm playing the game precisely because she is still playing the game. Even if there were such a rule (and there isn't), for her, pragmatics (i.e., "context," what's happening at the time) guides her syntax.
    And with this too. Her answer doesn't seem wrong to me, though I think it'd have been more natural to just say, Yes, or Yes, it is.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Wellesley College President Paula Johnson said, “It’s important because for many of our students, it’s the first time they are living away from home, away from their communities, away from their families.”

    Newton-Wellesley Hospital takes over Wellesley College health services in first program of its kind

    The writer is using the continuous tense here (are living away). Is it correct?
    It may be acceptable to some people, but I have never heard anyone speak like this, and I couldn't produce that sentence.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It makes sense, to the extent that they are indeed living away from home now, for the first time. But the more conventional way to phrase it is with the perfect aspect — it’s the first time they have lived away from home (which is still in the present tense).
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I can easily understand how they get from this:
    They're living away from home for the first time. :tick:

    ...to this:
    It's the first time they're living away from home.:thumbsdown: I would avoid this one. I can't say I've never said something like that myself though.:)
     
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