first thing in the morning

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China: Cantonese;Traditional Chinese
Everyone has to do general exercises first thing in the morning and then you can do whatever sport you like, more or less.

Why there is no relative pronoun preceding "first thing in the morning"?
  • jimreilly

    Senior Member
    American English
    This can be understood better if the order of the words is changed....

    The first thing everyone has to do in the morning is general exercises, and then....

    or, you could just leave out the word "thing":

    Everyone has to do general exercises first in the morning, then...

    "First thing" as used in your sentence is somewhat informal, and would usually be used in everyday speech, but not in formal writing.


    Senior Member
    American English
    It is common in informal conversational AE to omit the definite article in expressions like this one:
    First chance I get, I'm buying a lottery ticket.
    First thing you know, he's quit his job.
    First time I saw him, I knew he was trouble.

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Joelline is right about that trend. It is so common to drop the article that expressions without it have almost become idiomatic. To an American it sounds just fine.


    Senior Member
    British English
    And to a Brit. "First thing in the morning" is a set phrase and is very common in BE. As are the other examples given by Joelline in Post #3.
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