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  1. The last time we've seen it, it was a gate.
  2. The last time we saw it, it was a gate.
  3. The last time we'd seen it, it was a gate.

I'm not certain about the aforementioned sentences, namely, which is/are correct and meaningful constructions.

Further confusion is brought by these constructions from one authoritative textbook:

This is the first/only/best/worst time I have heard her sing.

This was the third time I had been in love that year.

So what is the right way of using tenses in the given context?

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  • Based on the link below, the actual sentence was, "The last time we've seen anything like it, it was a gate", which I think changes things a bit. Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 7:45

2 Answers 2

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Ok, so the sentence is: "The last time we've seen anything like it, it was a gate".

As a native Australian English speaker, it sounds basically fine, though when written down it looks slightly incorrect, and probably isn't how I would express that.

The confusion may arise from these similar expressions:

  • This is the first time we've seen it.
  • We've seen it for the last time.
  • We haven't seen anything like it.
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(1) doesn't make sense. (2) would be the normal way to say it (assuming that, in a place where you remember there being a gate, there is now a fence or something else). (3) would only be used in a story told in the past tense (the speaker remembers having seen a gate at an earlier time).

This was the third time I had been in love that year is also a sentence from a past-tense narrative.

This is the first/only time I have heard her sing is correct. I wouldn't use best or worst in that context.

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  • Funnily enough I heard a native speaker say (1) in a TV-show, this is why I've created my question (I got confused). Here's what the native speaker said: "No idea. All I know is that something's causing this disturbance, and the last time we've seen anything like it, it was a gate. And I hope it is because then we'd have a way to Vecna."
    – Let
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 9:49
  • Here's the moment: facebook.com/watch/?v=365256335701930
    – Let
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 10:21
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    I'm not familiar with the context of the show, but he seems to mean "The last time we saw anything like this disturbance, it was being caused by a gate". I don't know why he uses the perfect tense; I wouldn't, but it may be normal for his colloquial idiom. Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 10:51
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    The cited usage is probably just the actor "mis-speaking". Imho the construction is syntactically invalid, and the scriptwriter probably wouldn't have set it down like that in the first place. But it's a fairly easy mistake to make. I certainly wouldn't dignify the usage as a "dialectal" form - it's just a trivial slip of the tongue. No biggie. (Perhaps the actor is distracted by thinking of We haven't seen anything like this since that "last time", which is very close to the meaning he's supposed to be expressing.) Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 15:00

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