thirdly, fourthly

LinguaFan

Senior Member
Russia
Hello,

in a formal letter, what is the best way to introduce new arguments? I know that "First of all/ Firstly" and "Secondly" are ok but "thirdly" and "fourthly" are not. What expressions should be used?

THank you
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    You can use "firstly, secondly, thirdly, and fourthly," but these end up sounding repetitive. Personally, I would vary by using phrases like "in the third place" and "finally."

    Do you really need to number them all? You could also use phrases like "furthermore" and "in addition."
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    If you look in the WR dictionary entry for firstly you will find several threads on this topic.
    As TT suggests, it is a chestnut.

    I can't cope with narrative firstly, secondly, thirdly ... and I believe I described sixthly as intolerable :) But that is personal prejudice.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    If you look in the WR dictionary entry for firstly you will find several threads on this topic.
    As TT suggests, it is a chestnut.

    I can't cope with narrative firstly, secondly, thirdly ... and I believe I described sixthly as intolerable :) But that is personal prejudice.
    This has been discussed at length, at least a few times (I think), but I'm another who dislikes "firstly" and the whole string of strange numbers that are the logical consequence. :)
     

    Cathy Rose

    Senior Member
    United States English
    Any of my students who used ordinal numbers past "second" were told to develop a vocabulary. It's only my opinion, but I find it's tedious to read ordinals and they get in the way of the information one is trying to convey. I much prefer the aforementioned, next, furthermore, in addition to; however, I find last, finally, or in conclusion, acceptable. The sage on the stage has spoken. :D
     

    LinguaFan

    Senior Member
    Russia
    I'm very grateful to all of you:
    firstly, to bibliolept;
    secondly, to Boston Dude;
    thirdly, to Thomas Tompion;
    fourthly, to panjandrum;
    fifthly, to gaer;
    and... FINALLY, to Cathy Rose

    :))))

    Thank you very much
     

    parap

    Senior Member
    Mainly US English
    Stylistically, I would say, whichever one you pick, stick with it and avoid paragraphs like: "First, I discuss this. Secondly, I discuss that. In the third place, I discuss the other."
     

    Mattterhorn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hello, I know that this is really a stylistic question, and not a grammatical one, so I was wondering if anyone could recommend some reliable online style handbook about sequence adverbs. I am writing several papers that are going to be read aloud, so the index has to be put into a paragraph, not a table.
    When I have 5 items I go for: First, next, then, after that, finally.
    But when I have 6 or more I don’t know if it is a good idea to repeat one of them: First, next, then, after that, next, finally.
    I kind of dislike: Firstly, secondly, thirdly, fourthly, fifthly, sixthly, what I say afterwards is short, so it gets really repetitive, the adverbs are too close to each other.
    What about: first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth?
    Or First, next, then, after that, in the fifth place, finally?
    I need a recommendation for a list of 6 items of an index that have to be listed in the form of a paragraph. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot
     

    Mattterhorn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I have just realized I have 7 items in my index, so it gets even more complicated...
    What do you think of this sequence?
    First, next, then, after that, in the fifth place, in the sixth place, finally
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I am writing several papers that are going to be read aloud, so the index has to be put into a paragraph, not a table.
    You can read a numbered list aloud, and if it really is important that listeners understand the numbering, then the clearest way is probably to use use cardinal numbers, exactly as they are written in the paper. So, for example:

    To make a cup of tea​
    1. Put some water in a kettle
    2. Put the kettle on the stove
    3. When the kettle has nearly boiled, pour a little water into the teapot and put the kettle back on the stove
    4. Swirl the hot water round the teapot to warm it up
    5. Add tea to the teapot
    6. As soon as the water in the kettle is boiling, pour it into the teapot
    7. Let the teapot stand for a few minutes
    8. Pout the tea out into a cup
    This can be read as:
    To make a cup of tea. One. Put some water in a kettle. Two. Put the kettle on the stove. Three. When the kettle has nearly boiled, pour a little water into the teapot...​

    However. it is easy to manage without numbers, and in my example, you could say:
    To make a cup of tea: put some water in a kettle. Then put the kettle on the stove. Then, when the kettle has nearly boiled, pour a little water into the teapot...​

    You don't even need "then", and unless your list is a sequence of steps to be carried out in order, then "then" is probably wrong:
    To make a cup of tea: put some water in a kettle. Put the kettle on the stove. When the kettle has nearly boiled, pour a little water into the teapot...​
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I have just realized I have 7 items in my index, so it gets even more complicated...
    What do you think of this sequence?
    First, next, then, after that, in the fifth place, in the sixth place, finally
    You haven't explained the nature of your audience, Matterorn. It makes a difference.

    Why, if the piece is to be read aloud, must the index be put into a paragraph?
     

    Mattterhorn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    You haven't explained the nature of your audience, Matterorn. It makes a difference.

    Why, if the piece is to be read aloud, must the index be put into a paragraph?
    It is a public examination process to become a teacher of secondary education, you have to write, and later read aloud, a unit of the syllabus. I guess the jury reads it afterwards, but you have to read it aloud to them first. I find it difficult to keep the attention and follow the explanation without getting lost. There aren‘t any clear guidelines about the structure of the unit, we just have a list with the titles of the 70 units that form the syllabus, but most experts recommend to start with an index. I think that for the more complicated indexes I will go the easy way: 1, 2, 3... in a table, as Uncle Jack suggests.
     
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