Student or Learner
It was the first time that something like this had happened to me.
--- Should it be "had happened" or just "happened" or maybe "has happened"?
As you are saying "the first time", then one may conclude that it happened to you other times, which would not make the present perfect possible - "has happened to me". However, if that one time was the only time, then you could say "That was the only time something like that has ever happened to me".
It might seem to me that using "that" in place of "this" could be more likely, as "that" indicates distance, in this case distance in time, and "this" indicates something closer, in this case closer in time. It's not wrong to use "this", however. This all has to do with the speaker's viewpoint. It has nothing to do with structures of grammar. It could go either way. It just seems to me that "that" might be more likely here.
Last edited by PROESL; 16-Sep-2009 at 23:05.
I know why I should use the past perfect, but don't know why the past simple works here as well?
It's the first time I've seen the queen. (one tense backwards)
It was the first time I had done it. (one tense backwards)
I think this is how it works :)
The reason that the simple past works as well in the example sentence in your first post is because we can describe the action as one completed action in the past. We can also imagine that, given the context, this was an action or event completed up to or at a specific time in the past relevant to the context, which, of course, makes the past perfect possible.
It was the first time that something like this had happened to me. << Nothing like that happened to you up until that time in the past; therefore, the past perfect is possible, and, of course, the simple past because, as I said before, it's one completed action or event in the past. Also, the context, or lack of context, does not require the use of the past perfect in order to clearly know what came first and what came second. What a native speaker might choose to say when there's a choice of this kind is not predictable.
Last edited by PROESL; 16-Sep-2009 at 20:52.
So it's also correct to say: It's the first time I saw the queen??? It was the 1st time I did it.
I have attached a good document to explain the difference and usage of Present Perfect, Simple Past and Past Perfect Tenses.
I hope this proves useful to all users.
That was the first time I saw the queen.
It's the only time I've ever seen the queen. Also, but not as clear, "It's the only time I've seen the queen." We could presume that the speaker has only seen the queen once; therefore, it's not absolutely necessary to use "ever", but using "ever" adds clarity, as I see it.
Or - That's the only time I've ever seen the queen.
Reported speech - He said that was the only time he had ever seen the queen. He said that was the only time he has ever seen the queen.
Both are possible with reported speech.