The Google Ngram Viewer shows at first glance is much more frequently used than at a first glance.

Furthermore, as in this link(OALD), at first glance is entered as a stand-alone idiom. So I can conclude at first glance is the common one.

However, in terms of grammar, I don't see any problems with at a first glance and, rather this feels more correct.

Can I use at a first glance instead, and would it be accepted as natural and correct in native-English-speaking societies?

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    You can use it, but I think it would always give you away as a non-native speaker. Commented May 15, 2021 at 9:01
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    you can definitely "have a first glance", but you can't "see something at a first glance" Commented May 15, 2021 at 9:16

1 Answer 1


at first glance as you said is the stand alone idiom... but if we use at A first glance the it somehow implies the rest of the sentence be like ..." of something" Example: at a first glance of morning dawn, we shall move on.

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    Thank you. Aha, I got your point. It means that at a first glance sounds more specific with a lot of spectrum it can be used outside the meaning of at first glance. :) Commented May 15, 2021 at 9:46
  • @Atrin Noori: You are confusing the words "glimpse" and "glance"! Commented May 15, 2021 at 10:32
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    @SmartHumanism Kinda like that :) Commented May 15, 2021 at 16:05
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    @OldBrixtonian yeah that makes sense, So let me see at a first glance... I knew she was mine... now if we say at a first glance, somehow means at a glimpse or just a brief look to something, I guess we cant use it just as an ordinary sentence Commented May 16, 2021 at 4:46
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    @Atrin Noori That's right. Although we can use glimpse as a verb, it's most commonly used as a noun, in "to catch a glimpse of" for example. There are lots of examples here. Commented May 16, 2021 at 9:46

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