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I know that the standard construction with "this is the first time" is the Present Perfect.

1) This is the first time I have driven a car.

But what if the action is still in progress and I am still driving talking on the mobile phone? Is it correct to use "the Present Perfect Continuous"?

2) This is the first time I have been driving a car.

Or maybe there might be some other examples where the Present Perfect Continuous would fit it.

  • 2
    If someone said 1) to me, I would expect that person to be driving or just about to start driving when they said it, because of “This is.” I wouldn’t think it was a past event (despite the tense). If they were referring to a past event, they could say “That was the first time I’d driven a car.” An idiomatic way to say 2) is “This is my first time driving a car.” – Steve Kass Oct 25 '14 at 20:48
  • The whole point of my question is sentence 2. I want to know how acceptable it is in terms of grammar. – user1425 Oct 26 '14 at 19:34
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I think when you use a phrase like:

the first time
the second time
the next time
etc.

because you used (some) time, you are referring to an event, therefore the following phrase needs to refer to a whole event as if completed.
So Present Perfect should be used.

This is the first time I have driven a car.

Even if you are still driving in the car, this is what you would say.

For example, you can say:

This is the second time I have gone to that store.

but you would not say:

This is the second time I have been going to that store.

And you would say:

Next time I will go to the beach by myself.

In the case of Present Perfect Continuous usages, in this example:

Next time I will be going to the beach by myself.

you could use such form, but some additional reference is needed in context:

Next time I will be going to the beach by myself because you did not have a good time.

  • +1 Counting as far as I know is used with present perfect NOT with present perfect continuous. Counting is for number of events not for a duration. Great explanation @usr3169 – learner Oct 26 '14 at 22:49
1

"This is the first time I am driving a car" sounds unnatural to me. The standard construction for this is "This is the first time I have driven a car", though it's possible to use a present progressive form if we change the order: "Wow! I'm driving a car for the first time".

  • I don't see why you have commented on the Present Continuous. I am asking about the Present Perfect Continuous. – user1425 Oct 25 '14 at 17:20
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  1. This is the first time i am driving a car. (Here it's your first experience with driving a car - so you might probably be learning to drive)

Let me modify your second sentence to make it easy for a better elaboration.

Suppose you have been driving for four hours. Then the sentence would be

  1. This is the first time I have been driving a car for four hours. (It implies that you have driven a car before but not for so long (four hours). You have driven it for less than four hours.)

Another Example

  1. It's the first time i am learning a foreign language.

Now suppose it's been six months since you have been attending this foregin language class and you meet your old friend or someone in the street and you want to tell him this. Still the sentence would remain the same as -

It's the first time i am learning a foreign language. (Because the emphasis is not on the duration of your action but the action itself)

But if you use PPT in this sentence then -

  1. It's the first time I have been learning a foreign language for six months. (It sounds like you are learning a new language for the first time as well as you have been learning it for six months for the first time. -- Nobody speaks like that.)

So PPT would be incorrect to use in the above example.

Following is the edit made in respone to the below comments.

Let's modify your original example for better understanding

'This is the first time I am driving a BMW.' (Here also according to tunny if present continuous tense is not possible then the sentence would be -- 'This is the first time I have driven a BMW'. What i don't understand is how can you say that 'you have driven a BMW' when you are still driving it ??)

I hope my example in my comment's been useful to you. (watching a movie example) I hope that should be clear.

  • It looks a bit suspicious to me that you give the green light to "This is the first time i am driving a car." Are you a speaker of American English? As you can see Tunny doesn't approve of the Present Continuous in this construction and he is British. – user1425 Oct 25 '14 at 17:25
  • no am not. but i didn't find anything odd with it. If I say sitting in a theatre that 'This is the first time i am watching a movie in a theatre.' - Would you say it's wrong? Here you certainly can't say that 'This is the first time i have watched a movie in a theatre' when the movie is still going on. Or can you ? – Leo Oct 25 '14 at 18:13
  • I don't know, that is why I am asking. What region does your English belong to? I think it may be relevant. – user1425 Oct 25 '14 at 18:39
  • I think i'll edit my answer to elaborate my point further. You might want to check it – Leo Oct 26 '14 at 6:18

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