1. It's the first time I've seen him that happy.
  2. It's the first time I see him that happy.

Are these two sentences correct? If they are, what's the difference between them?

  • Both are correct sentences. – Ram Pillai Aug 9 '20 at 15:31

Neither sound correct to me, due to tense.

To me, the two idiomatic phrases would be:

Present tense, while you are in the person’s presence:

It’s the first time I’ve seen him this happy.

Past tense:

It was the first time I’d seen him that happy.

  • 1
    The only difference between your first suggestion and the OP's first suggestion is this happy vs. that happy, respectively. Both are completely fine. "This happy" is more appropriate if the person's happiness is also perceptible to the listener at the present time (e.g., when they are all in the same room); otherwise "that" probably makes more sense. – TypeIA Jul 8 '20 at 11:58
  • I agree that the OP's second suggestion sounds unnatural, although it is in fact completely grammatical and one can imagine a contrived scenario where it works, such as two actors discussing scenes in a play: "Act III is the first time I see him that happy." – TypeIA Jul 8 '20 at 12:01
  • Imagine I am driving a car and my friend is in the car. What is the correct saying: "It's the first time I am driving a car" or "It's the first time I drive a car"? – Vova Jul 8 '20 at 12:27
  • In alignment with the first example in my answer, it’s actually: It’s the first time I’ve driven a car. – Chris Mack Jul 8 '20 at 12:35
  • 2
    I’m reality, I’d either use “this is the first time I’ve driven a car” or “this is my first time driving a car”. – Chris Mack Jul 8 '20 at 15:43

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