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1) There was a band playing and it was the first time I had ever been to anything like that.

2) There was a band playing and it was the first time I have ever been to anything like that.

  • As a learner, I think #2 is wrong since the time reference is in the past. – Cardinal Jun 13 '16 at 20:59
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    I think you might be expected to explain what you think the difference is first. – Em. Jun 13 '16 at 21:18
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It's just the difference between the past perfect (had) and the present perfect (have). You might find this reference useful: Has vs Had

The present perfect - I have ____ - indicates an action that began in the past but has an effect that continues in the present.

The past perfect - I had ____ - indicates an action that began in the past and was completed before another action in the past.

As an example, suppose that you grew up in a land without elephants. You would say "I have never seen an elephant" because your not-seeing of elephants began in the past, and continues to the moment of your speaking. Then you go to the zoo and see an elephant. After that, you would say "I had never seen an elephant until I went to the zoo" because your not-seeing of elephants began in the past and continued until you went to the zoo.

So in your sentences, #1 sounds more natural and correct. You saw the band; that is in the past now. So you had never been to anything like that, until you did - the entire series of events is in the past.

  • Thank you so much for helping me on this. So is the second sentence not correct? – user3608985 Jun 14 '16 at 13:06
  • The second one maybe isn't strictly correct, but in practice you could probably say it in conversation and no one would really notice. I just think the first one is more strictly correct. – stangdon Jun 14 '16 at 16:02

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