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This is the first time I ate sushi.

Since "this is the first time" is in the present perfect tense does the verb "ate" have to be in the present perfect tense also?

  • "this is the first time" is not present perfect but simple present. But yes, you should put the rest in the present perfect: "This is the first time I have eaten sushi." I can't explain the reasoning behind that so I won't post this as an answer. – The Photon Nov 2 '17 at 3:19
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You use present perfect tense.

This is the first time I have ever eaten sushi.

Perfect tenses refer to completed or "not relevant anymore" things. You may still be eating the sushi, but you have checked off the "first time" box, so to speak, so logically speaking your "first time" is completed.

You would use past perfect tense if you were talking about your first time in the past.

That was the first time I had ever eaten sushi.

  • Why not include these too? "This is the first time I am going to eat sushi" and "This is the first time I am eating sushi" – SovereignSun Nov 2 '17 at 16:39
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In your example

This is the first time I ate sushi.
(This was the first time I had sushi)

the past is used since it is something you have already done, even if only a few moments ago. To say

This is the first time...
That was the first time...

the action would have had to have been completed.

This is the first time I heard that expression.
This is the first time I ran a marathon.
This is the first time that's ever happened to me.

  • I disagree. One would use the present perfect here. In colloquial speech, people say it in the past simple all of the time, but correct English grammar calls for the present perfect, i.e. "This is the first time I have eaten sushi" or "This is the first time I have run a marathon." – Nick Nov 2 '17 at 19:12

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