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PeaceblinkfriendShould I say 'that was actually the first time I saw him in his car' or 'that was actually the first time I have ever seen him in his car'?That was actually the first time I have ever seen him in his car.
But you could say, "That was / is actually the only time I have ever seen him in his car."
'that was actually the first time I saw him in his car'
'that was actually the first time I have ever seen him in his car'
I've decided I'm in a little bit over my head on this one. The meanings of the words can create some tense conflicts. There are probably some prescriptive rules on this particular case.
"I have ever seen him" covers all the time from the creation of the universe to the time of the statement. "The first time" implies that there might have been a second and a third, etc., but the first time was definitely in the past - at least, the act of seeing him in the car was in the past. But, interestingly, it still is the first time, and will continue to be the first time for all eternity.
Hopefully there's a standard ESL way of looking at this. Yoong Liat no doubt knows whereof he speaks, but I'd like to hear the explanation.
I'm sure you can say, "Yesterday, I saw him in his car for the first time ever." I think it's more complicated than I first suspected.
Best wishes, - A.
This is the first time the phone has rung.
This is the second time the phone has rung.
Hence, I'd say That was actually the first time I have ever seen him ...
The phone rang for the first time.
The phone has rung for the first time.
These are both okay, right?
That was the first time the phone ever rang. (I guess not??)
That is / was the first time the phone has / had ever rung.
I'm goin' nutz. - A.
these two are ok:
That was the first time I saw him
That was the fist time I'd seen him
The present perfect would not sound good at all to me, unless you are referring to the present (Ex: This is the first time I've seen him).
I am now realizing that I am not mentioning "ever". I think it's ok in sentences like this:
That was the best concert I've ever been to.
PS: Damn it. I just took a quick trip on the net, looking for examples of how native speakers actually use those structures. Well, it's a mess, I was wrong, and I'll definitely never know what's right either. <-- Bad mood here. It's too complicated... Native speakers speak, like, so totally random.
I've seen the present perfect used in every way with "the first time", so I suspect your sentence with the present perfect is ok too.
That was the first time I've ever seen him in his car.
That was the first time I ever saw him in his car.
Looks like several native speakers would find those ok. Some more:
Tonight was the first time I've seen you live!
That was the first time I've seen a friend of mine on TV!
This was the first time I ever heard of him.
Enjoy and wonder. Still in a bad mood here.
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