When using first as an adverb, you can use either first or firstly. What you CANNOT do is mix them up, e.g.,
first, secondly, thirdly, fourth, etc.. Choose either first, second, third, etc., OR firstly, secondly, thirdly, etc.
The -ly is a more formal usage — it makes me want to use thus! But the primary reason to not use the -ly version is the length of the word as well as the awkwardness if you get into the fiftiethlys…eek! Then there are the purists who object to the -lys.
Without descending into minutiae, you can apply the rules and examples to second/secondly, third/thirdly, fourth/fourthly, etc.
…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.
|Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: first|
|Part of Grammar:|
|Adjective; Adverb; Noun
Plural for noun: firsts
Being before all others with respect to time, order, rank, importance, etc.
[Music] Highest or chief among several voices or instruments of the same class
[Often an initial capital letter when spelled out] Being a member of the household or an intimate acquaintance of the president of the U.S. or of the governor of a state
Before some other thing, event, etc.
For the first time
In preference to something else
In the first place
The first part
[Music] The voice or instrument that takes the highest or chief part in its class, especially in an orchestra or chorus
[Automotive] Low gear
The winning position or rank in a race or other competition
[Baseball] First base
|[Formal] Used to introduce a first point or reason
He took first place at the Olympics.
He found that first edition of Samuel Pepys’ diaries.
The first vice president was Thomas Jefferson.
I finally achieved first chair in the bass section.
He was Lord John’s firstborn.
The duet was sung by the first alto and first soprano.
No, you have to start in first gear.
The First Lady usually takes on a signature project while the president is in office.
Checkers was the first dog.
She first visited Atlanta in 1980.
I’d die first.
In the first place, I’m your mother, and you’ll do what I say.
First, we should start up the chainsaw. Second, we can cut down that grove of trees.
Skinwalker is the first book in the Jane Yellowrock series by Faith Hunter.
She shifted into first and drove off.
She was first in the equestrian event.
“Herman Schaefer is the only known person to ever steal first in a Major League game”, forcing what is now Rule 7.08i (Daven Hiskey).
|Firstly it is wrong, and secondly, it is extremely difficult to implement.
Firstly, we should start up the chainsaw. Secondly, we can cut down that grove of trees.
|History of the Word:|
|Old English fyr(e)st is of Germanic origin and related to the Old Norse fyrstr and German Fürst meaning prince, from an Indo-European root shared by the Sanskrit prathama, the Latin primus, and the Greek prōtos.||First known use: 1525-35|
C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?
Pinterest Photo Credits
Chalkboard by 472301 is under the CC0 Creative Commons license, via Pixabay. The Barnstar-Megaphone is courtesy of the US government and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. I cannot find the source for the professor and his students or the text on the chalkboard.