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Hi teachers

Could you please help me understand the following:

My grammar book says the present perfect is used with " It/this is the first time ":
. This is the first time I’ve seen such a car

. It’s the first time he has driven a car.

But I see somebody write "this is the first time I am participating in such a big event. I expect to learn to organise youth activities and implement them to benefit the youth in Cu Lao Gieng."

Is this sentence correct ? If it is correct,can it be used interchangeably with the sentence "this is the first time I have participated in such a big event."?

Thank you in advance
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Comments  
NO, not the same:

I am participating: doing it now
I have participated: doing it from the past to now, perhaps still going on, but mostly done
Thank you Marius Hancu,but what is the meaning of the whole sentence" This is the first time I have driven a car "?

Best wishes
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I am driving right now. This is the first time. I have not driven before.
Thank you Grammar Geek, but How about the meaning of the whole sentence" This is the first time I am participating in such a big event"?

Best wishes
The event is big. I have participted in events beore, but not one this big.

By using "I am participating" instead if "I have participated" it tells me the event is still in the future.
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Sorry to trouble you again Grammar Geek.But the context here shows that he is participating in the event now .not in the future . In order for you to see clearly the context ,please read the whole text below:
Quote

Youth federations require financial support, guidance

(26-02-2005)

Approximately 800 Vietnamese delegates participated in the Fifth National Congress of the Viet Nam Youth Federation. Viet Nam News spoke with some of them about challenges they face at work and in life.

Catholic priest Le Ba Tung, 31, of An Giang Province’s Youth Union.

I come from Cu Lao Gieng in Cho Moi Commune’s Tan My Village, which has about 4,000 parishioners. They are poor and mostly farmers.

This is the first time I am participating in such a big event. I expect to learn to organise youth activities and implement them to benefit the youth in Cu Lao Gieng.

Today is youth, especially those in Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region, need to work more closely to support each other, and improve their skills for business.

Young Vietnamese are the future and they should be role models for the coming generations. — VNS
Best wishes
> This is the first time I am participating in such a big event.

This is a bit ambiguous:
- the event can be at that very time
or:
- the event can come in the soon-to-be future
The context should clarify that. I think that in this case the event takes place as he speaks.

Present continuous can be used for describing future situations.
To be completely honest, I don't find "This is the first time I am participating" while the event it taking place simply doesn't sound natural to me.

I would use "... I have particpated" in that context.
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