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Essay Firstly Secondly

The paragraph I wrote for last week's lesson (repeated below) is structured in the following way:

1. Topic sentence
2. Firstly
3. Example
4. Secondly
5. Finally

I think this is a good way to organise a paragraph. However, it's best not to use the same structure twice in one essay. Compare the two paragraphs below. How did I structure the second one to avoid repeating "Firstly, Secondly, Finally"?

First main paragraph
There are good reasons why some people feel the need to make significant changes to their lives from time to time. Firstly, any new situation that a person encounters can be an opportunity to learn and grow as a person. A new job, for instance, might present challenges that push the person to adapt, acquire new knowledge, or add to his or her skill set. Secondly, a change can represent a break with the past and an old routine which has become boring and predictable. Finally, as well as making life more fun and interesting, new experiences can be good for our physical and mental health.

Second main paragraph
On the other hand, it is understandable why people might avoid change. Whenever people are forced to change their lifestyles, jobs or even to move house, they are likely to experience stress and worry as they try to adapt to the new situation. By contrast, we feel comfortable and confident when we stay with what we know. The decision to persist with a course of action or stick to one chosen path often leads to greater success in life. For example, by staying in the same job for many years, a person can become an expert in his or her field, which will lead to better opportunities for promotions and career progression.

Why do we use ‘first, second,..’ and not ‘firstly, secondly...’?


When listing things there is a convention that the first item is introduced as first rather than firstly, although the following items can be said to be secondly, thirdly, fourthly, etc.

The reason for this is that first early on had a role as an adverb, and the use of firstly, though established by the 17c, was felt to be an unnecessary affectation. Today this rule is considered outdated, and a variety of sequences are sometimes used:

First…, secondly…, thirdly

Firstly…, secondly…, thirdly

Firstly…, second…, third

The first two of these examples are both usually considered acceptable, but the third should normally be avoided.

 

Back to usage

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