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There is a song with title {hajimete no asa} and another song with title {hajime no hi}. There is also a manga title {hajimete no aku}, and not to forget the popular boxing manga {hajime no ippo}.

So what is the difference between 「はじめてのX」 {hajimete no X} and 「はじめのX」 {hajime no X}? How do we choose to use one over the other?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

はじめ hajime is "the beginning", so はじめの日 hajime no hi should be translated as "The day of the beginning" or "The day it begun" and はじめの一歩 hajime no ippo as "The step that started it".

はじめて hajimete is "for the first time", so はじめての朝 hajimete no asa would be "(My) first morning" and はじめてのあく hajimete no aku would be "My first Aku" (apparently officially "My first Mr. Akuno").

In normal English both expressions would usually be translated as "first" though: "The first day", "The first step".

Compare:

  • 初めのキス hajime no kisu - The first kiss ("The kiss with which it began")
  • 初めてのキス hajimete no kisu - (My) first kiss ("(My) first experience of kissing")
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+1. Nice example sentences. –  Amanda S Jun 2 '11 at 4:08

「はじめてのX」refers to something that occurs for the first time:

  • 初めてのデート (first date)
  • 初めての場所 (new place; a place one is visiting for the first time)
  • 初めての子ども (one's first child)

「はじめのX」refers something as it is in the beginning of something:

  • 始めの段階 (beginning stage)
  • 初めの一歩 (first step; step at the beginning of a journey)
  • 学年の初めの日 (first day of school; the day when the school year begins)

[examples taken from ALC]

To contrast the two, let's try replacing one with the other and seeing how the meaning changes:

  • はじめの場所 (origin; place where one began)
  • 初めての一歩 (a baby's first step ever)
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