For the first time VERSUS The first time


Could you please tell me if all the following sentences mean the same thing?

1- When did you see her for the first time?
2- When did you see her first time?
3- When did you see her the first time?
4- When did you first see her?
5- When did you see her first?


Hi Tom

Please delete sentence 2 completely. It’s not grammatical.

Sentences 1 + 3 could have the same meaning, but technically only sentence 1 is correct if you mean “for the first time ever/in your life”.

Sentence 3 could be referring to a situation where it is know that in a given period you saw her a number of times and it simply asks when the first of those encounters happened.
Or it might be asking what time a first appointment took place.

Sentence 4 seems to ask what was the earliest point in time that you saw her in a particular situation or at a particular place.

Sentence 5 --> I haven’t decided what I think of it yet. 8)


Many, many thanks, Amy.

[color=red]But… :oops:

I am quoting something from the following link.

“Last time” VERSUS “The last time”

So, Amy, could you please tell me why the first one is correct and second one is not?

1- When did you see him [color=red]last time? (Correct)
2- When did you see him [color=red]first time? (Incorrect)

Thanks again


That is not a quote, Tom.
The word first is not the same as the word last. 8)


I am grateful, Amy.

Just last question, [size=67]though I am still confused![/size]

Do we agree on the following?

1- When did you see him last time? ([color=red]Correct)
2- When did you see him first time? ([color=red]Incorrect)


Aha! Now I understand, Tom.

Yes, that’s right.

But, maybe we should go back to the “last time” stuff.
Maybe I misinterpretted what you were asking there. (Or maybe not. ;))

For these two questions, I personally would expect a time of day as the answer. In other words, these questions mean something similar to:
Q: “What time was that last appointment that you had with him?”
A: “It was at 8:30 on a Friday morning.”

That’s a very specialized sort of question. Is that what you intended?

The sentences I gave you (above) are much more general in meaning and would be answered with things such as:
“Two months ago”
“In February”
“Last weekend”

That’s why I said that they sounded more natural to me. They are more commonly used/needed. And they ask the question I thought you wanted to ask.


Hi Tom,

Following your request about:

You really need to add ‘the’ to 2 so that 2 and 3 are the same.

They all ask the same question concerning first seeing someone. The clearest one to me is:

When did you see her for the first time?