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What is the most natural way in Spanish to talk about someone's first time doing something? For example:

  • This is my first time eating sushi.
  • That was the first time she's ever gone camping.
  • Was that your first time in California?

Is the literal translation from English correct, or is there a better way to express this?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

In Spain we would use es la primera vez que, avoiding the possessive. For example:

This is my first time eating sushi.

Es la primera vez que como sushi.

Usage of the possessive (such as in "es mi primera vez...") sounds awkward, and is probably an anglicism. Also, gerunds such as "eating" get usually translated as "que" + inflected verb; keeping the gerund "comiendo" sounds similarly awkward and foreign.

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+1. Initially I translated exactly as you suggest you would do it in Spain but jrdioko wanted to know if the literal translation would be fine, which it is. It sounds awkward but not necessarily incorrect. – Icarus Mar 6 '12 at 19:29

The literal translation is perfectly fine:

  • Esta es mi primera vez comiendo sushi
  • Esa había sido la primera vez que ella había ido de camping
  • ¿Fue esa tu primera vez en California?
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I guess by "literal translation" I meant, "Esta es mi primera vez comiendo sushi." – jrdioko Mar 6 '12 at 18:22
@jrdioko that's better :) I will use yours. – Icarus Mar 6 '12 at 18:24

In Spain literal translation would sound a little odd, not seemed as a native from Spain in most places, and you could be misunderstood if you said: ¿Fue esa tu primera vez en California? Someone could understand that was not your first time in California, but the first time you did something in California.

This is the best in Spain: Es la primera vez que como sushi.

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