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I went to the high school reunion for the first time and met my old friends. When I describe this event using time expression, what sentences are appropriate?

1) It was the first meeting since the graduation.
2) I've seen them for the first time in 20 years / in a long time.
3) I saw them after 20 years / a long time.
4) It's been a long time to see them.

I always wonder which sentence is the most appropriate grammarwise and also sounds natural. Could you help me?

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Personally, I think I might say this, "It was the first time we met since we graduated." –  Damkerng T. May 25 at 1:19
    
It was my first time seeing them since our graduation 20 years earlier. –  CocoPop May 25 at 1:50
    
I hadn't seen them since our graduation, 20 years ago. –  Codeswitcher May 25 at 3:23
    
I've had this question for long and did research myself.Personally,1) and 3) are easy to say and make sense grammatically. As for 3), I thought the question I asked before might be applied here, also. –  tennis girl May 25 at 23:30
    
continued, The question I asked before "Is it possible to use present perfect instead of past perfect?"June6,2013. –  tennis girl May 25 at 23:43
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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Looking at each sentence in turn:

1)

It was the first meeting since the graduation.

This is OK grammatically, but it is a little impersonal. Suggested alternatives:

It was our first meeting since graduation.
It was our first meeting since we graduated.
It was the first time we met since we graduated.

2)

2) I've seen them for the first time in 20 years / in a long time.

This is perhaps the most interesting (and problematic) of your choices since present perfect doesn't really work here. Viable alternatives:

I saw them for the first time in 20 years.
It was the first time I'd seen them in 20 years.
It's the first time I've seen them in 20 years.

3)

I saw them after 20 years / a long time.

OK gramatically, but it sounds like you are recounting it years later. Could be something like:

I hadn't seen them for 20 years.

4)

It's been a long time to see them.

No. Should be something along the lines of:

It's been a long time since I last saw them.
It had been a long time since I'd seen them.

... depending on what you are trying to say (and when the event you are talking about actually happened).

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Thank you for the detailed explanation for each sentence. It is very helpful. –  tennis girl May 27 at 3:44
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I'm not sure I'd use any of your phrasings. Here are some alternatives that came to mind:

It was the first time I'd seen them in twenty years.

I hadn't seen them in twenty years.

It had been a long time since I'd last seen them.

I think I might say one of these instead.

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My thoughts were in line with these. One other way to say it might be: "It was my first time seeing them in twenty years." –  J.R. May 25 at 23:38
    
@J.R. I realized now that your sentence "my first time doing" is the easiest and simpliest way to say to me, because I don't have to think a lot about the tense. I can just change the tense in the main be-verb. It is very helpful. Thank you. –  tennis girl Jul 1 at 4:39
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I think the best one is:

3) I saw them after 20 years.

You could use "a long time" but I would prefer "20 years" which is more descriptive of the actual time period (unless dating yourself is a concern).

1) It was the first meeting since graduation.

is OK as an introductory statement, before getting into details about the reunion. Just "since graduation", not "since the graduation".

I would not use 2) because what you are describing is in the past and this is not using past tense. (The reunion has already ended).

And 4) is not in the past tense either.

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Thank you for your answer, but if I change the tense in 2) and 4), like "I'd seen them for the first time in 20 years." and "It had been a long time to see them. Does it work? –  tennis girl May 25 at 1:42
    
@tennisgirl Then 2) is OK. For 3) I would say "It had been a long time since I had seen them." Infinitive "to see" does not really work here. –  user3169 May 25 at 2:47
    
Thank you. It's very clear now. –  tennis girl May 25 at 3:25
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