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Difference between First time and For the first time

first timesaid of the very first occasion of smth. (similar events could possibly follow later though not necessarily):

  • She put on her hat and shawl and, realizing it was the first time she was to leave him at home, she hugged and kissed him.

Note: The expression is not equivalent in meaning to the phrase first time round—(also: first time around) used of the first instance of some cyclic or repeated event:

  • John didn’t pass the bar exam the first time round. He passed it on his second try.

for the first timeas the first instance since some past point in time:

  • Negotiations began in the 1950s when it became clear for the first time that coastal resources needed protection.