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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 14th, 2009, 10:28 pm
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Join Date: Feb 9th, 2009
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Ana laura is on a distinguished road
Default tenses

Hello,

I still have doubts about tenses in sentences like the following:

1) When talking about the past I am not sure which one is correct:

a) It was the first time I drove a car.

b) It was the first time I had driven a car.


2) When referring to the present:

a) It is the first time I drive a car.

b) It is the first time I have driven a car.


I'd like to know why it's correct to choose one option over the other.

Thank you very much in advance!!
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Unread Apr 16th, 2009, 01:09 pm
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Join Date: Apr 5th, 2009
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Default Re: tenses

My advice is to use the simple past when you're not sure. It's not always right, but it's the most common form of the past.

For the past perfect ("I had driven a car") we use that when comparing two time forms. I tell my students it's the 'more past.' ("I had driven a car before I got my license.") It emphasizes that the 'had driven' is earlier--as far as time--than the getting.

As far as the present goes: I suggest you use the present perfect (I have driven) when you talk about first times, but normally we use the simple present (I drive) or the present progressive (I am driving) when we talk about things that are happening now.

The difference here is that the simple present (I drive a car) means only that it's something I do in general: I'm a car driver. The present progressive (I am driving) means that it's something I'm doing at this moment, right now. (It doesn't mean that I normally drive, though.)

I hope that helps. If you have more questions, feel free to ask!
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 18th, 2009, 07:18 pm
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Join Date: Feb 9th, 2009
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Ana laura is on a distinguished road
Default Re: tenses

Hi again

The present perfect tense is always difficult to understand and sometimes it doesn't sound natural when I translate it into my native language (River plate Spanish) but your explanation was really clear.

Thank you very much.
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