Firstly, Secondly/First, Second

Sextus

Senior Member
Spanish
"The present paper has a double aim. Firstly, to analyze certain questions concerning S’s outlook and works, namely (i) his relationship with the Empirical and the Methodical medical sects, (ii) the character and chronology of his writings, and (iii) the different positions that seem to coexist in his works. Secondly, to give an overview of the impact of Sextan Pyrrhonism on the development of both early modern and contemporary philosophy."

I'm not sure if I should rather use "first", "second", or "in the first place", "in the second place".

Thanks
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    My concern is that the second and third sentences of that paragraph are not actually "complete" in the sense that they are both orphaned prepositional clauses. If this does not concern you, I would vote that you stay with firstly and secondly.

    I feel that "double" is not an improvement over "twofold," by the way.
     

    tepatria

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    I'm not a fan of firstly, secondly, lastly etc. I think I would phrase it more along the lines of The first aim is to analyze... The second is to give... This might address some of the problems with your prepositional clauses that bibliolept pointed out. I also agree that twofold sounds better here, or you could say the two main purposes...
     

    Sextus

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Thanks for your answers.

    Actually, I only use "first, second,...", but as someone told me it was wrong, I thought it was a bad habit I had acquired.

    So, perhaps:

    "The purpose of the present paper is twofold. First, it analyzes certain questions concerning S’s outlook and works, namely (i) his relationship with the Empirical and the Methodical medical sects, (ii) the character and chronology of his writings, and (iii) the different positions that seem to coexist in his works. Second, it offers an overview of the impact of Sextan Pyrrhonism on the development of both early modern and contemporary philosophy."
     

    Sextus

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    It now seems to me that the word "purpose" requires the use of "to".

    "The purpose of the present paper is twofold. The first is to examine some difficult questions concerning S’s outlook and works, namely (i) his relationship with the Empirical and the Methodical medical sects, (ii) the character and chronology of his writings, and (iii) the different positions that seem to coexist in his works. Its second purpose is to offer an overview of the impact of Sextan Pyrrhonism on the development of both early modern and contemporary philosophy."
     

    JeffJo

    Senior Member
    USA
    USA, English
    The word "purpose" is not well used there. A twofold purpose is one purpose, but then you mention a second purpose, which sounds like "purpose" should have been plural when first used.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I really don't like twofold. I think this is a phobia based on one individual in my past.
    However, now that I have declared that bias, I still don't like twofold.

    You began with, "The present paper has a double aim."
    This paper has two objectives (aims). The first, to ... ... ... ... .

    The second ... ... ... .

    I'd happily change "The first" to "Firstly" ("The second" to "Secondly") in this example - because there are only two objectives. This structure becomes very artificial if there are many objectives - "Sixthly ..." is, to me, intolerable.
     

    Sextus

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    You're right, I think the same way as you do. However, I've seen that a lot both in English and in French. So perhaps:

    "The present paper has two objectives. The first, to examine some difficult questions concerning S’s outlook and works, namely (i) his relationship with the Empirical and the Methodical medical sects, (ii) the character and chronology of his writings, and (iii) the different positions that seem to coexist in his works. The second, to give an overview of the impact of Sextan Pyrrhonism on the development of both early modern and contemporary philosophy."
     

    JeffJo

    Senior Member
    USA
    USA, English
    "The second, to give an overview of the impact of Sextan Pyrrhonism on the development of both early modern and contemporary philosophy."

    Not a grammatical sentence. No finite verb.

    'The second is...'
     
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    two-a-penny

    New Member
    English
    Regarding the use of first, second verses firstly, secondly etc (and River and Tomandjerryfan's comments), both are actually relatively modern constructions.

    The older standard is first, secondly, thirdly, etc. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following quote from Johnson's Dictionary, which didn't include word firstly: ‘Some late authors use Firstly for the sake of its more accordant sound with secondly, thirdly, etc.’

    All three of these styles are acceptable, and choosing between them is a matter of personal choice. So, a style manual is exactly the right place to find such an opinion. :)

    It's one of those things people often have strong feelings about and they might tell you one is wrong, but, in fact, usage varies from person to person, so go with the one you prefer.
     

    Sextus

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Two-a-penny: you're right. I've seen a couple of English authors using first, secondly, thirdly.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Two-a-penny: you're right. I've seen a couple of English authors using first, secondly, thirdly.

    Pendants, and Fowler's Modern English Usage, will tell you that "firstly" should not exist.

    First is both an adjective and an adverb.
     

    Chigch

    Senior Member
    Mongolian
    How to call these words such as First(ly), Second(ly),...Last(ly) that are used to describe a list?

    Are they called transition conjunctions?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    How to call these words such as First(ly), Second(ly),...Last(ly) that are used to describe a list?

    Are they called transition conjunctions?
    I've heard things called conjunctions of order. Maybe that's what these are (?)

    I'm not clear that there is a standard term, Chigch. "Transition conjunctions" doesn't score many hits on Google.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    It seems like there are five aims or purposes actually, not just three. Three analyses and two overviews, or maybe two analyses and three overviews.

    1. Analysis of S's relationship with the Empirical and the Methodical medical sects (relationship with alternative sects)
    2. Analysis of
    the character and chronology of his writings (this could also be considered an overview of his work)
    3. Analysis of
    the different positions that seem to coexist in his works (analyse his internal contradictions)
    4. O
    verview of the impact of Sextan Pyrrhonism on the development of early modern philosophy
    5. O
    verview of the impact of Sextan Pyrrhonism on the development of contemporary philosophy

    Are you sure this is the order you are doing them in? If not, then first, second, third or firstly, secondly, thirdly, or first, secondly, thirdly, etc, might not even be useful. And calling them conjunctions? Aren't they adverbs?
     
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    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    They are definitely adverbs, not conjunctions. Specifically they are "sentential" adverbs.
     

    Chigch

    Senior Member
    Mongolian
    Their category may be (sentential) adverb, as you say.

    But '(sentential) adverb' is only likely to be used in linguistic articles.

    I am just trying to give a name to these conjunctions/adverbs in a non-linguistic article, which is about how to use these words in essays.
     

    Iath

    New Member
    Spanish - Colombia, English - Int'l
    Interesting issue, but I fear the various prejudices and personal preferences that have been expressed won't contribute towards making things clearer to less experienced writers.

    Style should not be confused with what is linguistically write or wrong. The original question was whether "firstly, secondly, etc." was correct as opposed to "first, second, etc." The simple answer is that both are acceptable and widely used, although people have their preferences and use interesting arguments to back them up. (Grammarist summs it up well, and Two-a-penny elegantly expressed this point within this thread.)

    The original text was just fine for an academic paper, as pointed out by Konungursvia long ago (except for the issue about the "double aim"). Just as subsequent modifications have also worked well: v2, v3, v4.

    As a side note (not really the topic of this thread but debated here within), I do agree that the introductory phrase is better in v4: "two objectives" instead of "double aim" or "twofold".
     
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