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Hi, Emotion: smile

Which tenses can I use with first, second, third? Examples:

  1. This is the first time I've been here. (ok, everybody knows, present perfect)

  2. This is the second cake I'm baking. (If I'm baking a cake, present continuous)

  3. This is the third photo I'll take/I'm going to take. (I haven't take it yet, future)

  4. This will be the last example I'll give to you. (two future tenses)
Thank you in advance.
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Hi,

Which tenses can I use with first, second, third? Generally speaking, you can use any tense you want to. What makes you think you can't?

Best wishes, Clive
Thanks a lot. Emotion: smile
Clive Which tenses can I use with first, second, third? Generally speaking, you can use any tense you want to. What makes you think you can't?
(English Grammar In Use, second edition, Raymond Murphy):

Don is having a driving lesson. He is very nervous and unsure because it its his first lesson.
It's the first time he had driven a car (not "drives").
Lind has lost her passport again. This is the second time this has happened (not "happens").


In fact, I don't usually find "It's the second cake I bake," however I sometimes find people that say "It's the second cake I'm baking."

So, could somebody tell me which tenses don't sound too odd? For example:

  1. It's the second cake I bake.
  2. It's the second cake I'm baking.
  3. It's the second cake I've baked.
  4. It's the second cake I've been baking.
  5. ...


  6. Which can I use if I'm baking the cake right now? What if I just finished baking it?

    And about future tenses (I haven't baked it yet):

    1. It's the second cake I'll bake/I'm going to bake.
    2. It will be the second cake I bake.
    3. It will be the second cake I'll bake/I'm going to bake.
    4. It will be the second cake I'll have baked.
    5. ...


    6. I hope those examples also work with "first time, last cake,... " I'm sorry if I've posted too many examples, but I want to make the question clear. Grammar books are confusing about this question, I think I'm gonna sue the authors of those books. Emotion: wink

      Thank you in advance.
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It's the first time he had driven a car (not "drives").

Is this quote accurate? If so, sue them, sue them! Emotion: smile
-- because it has tense sequence problems.
It should be either It was ... had driven or It's ...he has driven.

CJ
The best way to handle this, i.e., the least "odd" in my opinion, is to let the main clause carry the tense and place the subordinate verb in the appropriate perfect tense (present or past).

This/It is the second cake I've baked.
This/It will be the second cake I've baked.
This/It will have been the second cake I've baked.
[Rare.]
That/It was the second cake I'd baked.
That/It would be the second cake I'd baked.
That/It would have been the second cake I'd baked.


More examples with modals.

This/It [might / could / must] be the second cake I've baked.
That/It [might / could / must] have been the second cake I'd baked.


The tense in the main clause allows the correct interpretation of the secondary clause. For example, it is not only unnecessary, but cumbersome, to say It will be the second cake I will have baked, even though that's the meaning of It will be the second cake I've baked.

CJ
Murphy's is a good book. Do the exercises first. What he wants to teach you here is a specific case when present perfect is used.

In the lesson we aer concernign this usage of the present perfect

  • This is the first time I've tried this.

  • This is the second time I've tried this.

  • This is the third time I've tried this.

  • This is the fourth time I've tried this.

  • This is the fifth time I've tried this.

  • ...
It is not that this is how we use the present perfect tense, rather this is the excellent opportunity for you to feel what the present perfect really is.

Every lesson in this book is dedicated to one usage of the tense or other grammar topic. He wants to teach you a basic understanding of all the tenses first. Once you are sure that you understand each lesson and solve all exercises (and of course understand why the solutions are as they are) you can go on.

Before you do all what is given in the book, there is no point in asking anyone for more detailed explanations. The book follows its own method and that method is very good (one of the best I found). So stick with the explanations and exercises in the book. Do them repeatedly as long as you do not understand all. Then you can go on in your own researches.

(Imagine you play tennis and your trainer is asking for months from you to take a strange posture that you never see anyone ever take on any tennis court. Your trainer knows why that posture is good. You start with Murphy. Stick with him; let him be your trainer. The exercises are simple and right to the point. Later you can find and analyze more advanced topics.) Regarding typos in the book, there are one or two in the book, but they are not critical.

Any detail explanation now might only confuse you - forever. Finish all exercise and compare with the given keys first, please.

Good luck.
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Thank you very much CalifJim. [y]
CalifJim
It's the first time he had driven a car (not "drives").
Is this quote accurate? If so, sue them, sue them! Emotion: smile
-- because it has tense sequence problems.
It should be either It was ... had driven or It's ...he has driven.
It was "It's the first time he has driven a car." I should try to get more sleep instead of suing them. Emotion: yawn But it's English that doesn't let me sleep! Emotion: crying

I understand, CalifJim. Could you check also the tenses in these sentences please? Because I think other verb tenses can be used as well. Comments are in parentheses:

  1. Next week I'm going to San Francisco. It will be the first time I've been there.( present perfect - thinking about past events)

  2. From now on, I'll have to go to San Francisco every week. So Monday will be be the first time I'll go there. ( future - thinking about future events)

  3. From now on, I'll have to go to San Francisco every week. So this Monday will be be the first time I'm going there.

  4. I'm in my car, I'm going to San Francisco. This is the first time I've been going there. But I'll soon get used to this, this is only the first time I'll go there.
If those sentences are ok and I want to make them "conditional," is the rule present --> past, will --> would as always? (Example no. 2: If I had to go to San Francisco every week like all the others do, Monday would be the first time I would go there)

Thank you in advance.
You want Could you also check the tenses? (Not with the adverb alsobetween the verb and its object!) Emotion: smile

1. Same tense sequence as I advised earlier. Sounds fine to me.
2. Sounds a little strange. I prefer Monday will be the first time I go there. (Simple present for scheduled future event) (I don't think you really meant be be, by the way!) Also possible in this context is Monday will be the first time I've been there.
3. Same as previous example. Again I prefer the versions I gave just above. (Again, no be be)
4. Awkward though it is, if I had to say something with this pattern, I would say This is the first time I'm going there in both clauses. I don't know why you switched from present to future after that set-up of an on-going present time situation ( I'm in my car ... ).

A lot of these seem awkward. An alternate form is less so:

1. Next week [I'll be / I'm] going to San Francisco for the first time.
2. [I'll be / I'm] going there for the first time on Monday.
3. [I'll be / I'm] going there for the first time on Monday.
4. I'm in my car, (and I'm) going to San Francisco for the first time. (I'll get used to it.)
[All the rest of this sentence is unrealistically repetitive, except as a grammar question!]
______

The transform to conditional is as follows. (These complexities are not very idiomatic. You will rarely hear this sort of thing. In your place I would not spend a lot of time drilling myself on these oddities.)

If I have to go ..., Monday will be the first time I've (I have) gone there.
If I had to go ..., Monday would be the first time I'd (I had) gone there.
_______

A digression:

Note that some expressions are somewhat limited. For example, be going to for an idiomatic future is really only available in two tenses.

I have never tried eggplant, but I'm going to try it some day. (*I will be going to try it ...)
I had never tried eggplant, but I was going to try it some day. (*I would be going to try it ...)

*I have never tried eggplant, but I have been going to try it some day. [Awful!]
*I had never tried eggplant, but I had been going to try it some day. [Really awful!]

And you can just forget things like *I will have been going to try ...!!!

I think the expression ... first time (that) I ... is similar in this respect. Others may have different opinions, of course.

CJ
Thank you CalifJim. [y]

I understand. Anyway, maybe I should have chosen general examples, like the following. Do you see any difference?

  • It (is / will be) the first time somebody will do something.

  • It (is / will be) the first time somebody do something.
Personally, I think they mean the same. Also, can I use a continuous tense? Like:

  • It's the first time somebody has done something.

  • It's the first time somebody has been doing something.
Now I'm posting, and it's the n-th time I've been posting. Or is it also the n-th time I've posted, although I haven't posted for the n-th time yet because I'm still posting? Is it the fourth book I've read even though I'm still reading it? I guess so, but I'd like to know if a continous verb can also be used.

Thanks. Emotion: smile
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