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Say you're making an argument that has two parts:

Why did such and so happen? First, bla bla. Second, bla-pity bla bla bla.

I'm thinking "secondly" would sound better. But if I use "secondly," do I have to use "firstly" -- which sounds so -- yuck.

The tone of the piece of writing is medium formal. I mean, it's formal, but not formal at the level of a brief submitted to the Supreme Court.

marked as duplicate by JEL, David, Hank, Dan Bron, Rand al'Thor Jul 3 '17 at 22:57

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  • 2
    'Second' is fine, in my opinion. If you want, you could try: 'Also', 'In addition', 'On the other hand', 'One must not forget/ignore'... – marcellothearcane Jul 1 '17 at 14:44
  • @marcellothearcane - thanks, I like second better than also. (I tend to overuse "also.") – aparente001 Jul 1 '17 at 14:49
  • @andrewleach - I don't know whether you'll be able to see this comment, but my question is different from the one you found. That person wanted to know if he could have a list of one item. I have a list of two items, and I wonder if first and secondly can go together, or if they have to match (first and second; firstly and secondly). – aparente001 Jul 2 '17 at 3:11
  • 3
    How about a different one then? I am convinced this question is answered elsewhere already. (And a duplicate simply points to you to the answer to your question; it doesn't mean that the question is exactly the same) – Andrew Leach Jul 2 '17 at 8:06
  • @AndrewLeach - The question looks quite different; if you think a particular answer gives me what I need, how 'bout you link to the answer? // Is there a tldr for Sven's comprehensive treatise? – aparente001 Jul 3 '17 at 3:20

First is necessarily followed by second.

Secondly necessarily follows firstly, however 'yuck' that might sound.

I suspect firstly/secondly is both more formally correct and less modern and first/second is less formal and more modern but I won't bet on either…

  • Oh, come on, Guys! How could anyone doubt what I said, let alone down it? Even if I were wholly wrong I still think anonymous downing shouldn't be alllowed. – Robbie Goodwin Jul 2 '17 at 22:46
  • You should worry if you never are the target of the drive-by downvoter. :) – ab2 Jul 3 '17 at 5:46
  • Point taken, ab2, and I still think anonymous downing shouldn't be allowed – Robbie Goodwin Jul 3 '17 at 15:26
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    @Robbie Goodwin by 'anonymous downing not to be allowed', do you just want the downvoter to be identified? I have taken exception a couple of times not to 'anonymous' downvoting as such, but the fact that the anonymous downvoter did not specify the reason for the downvote. Of course leaving a comment as to the reason would immediately identify the downvoter at present, but we could possibly include a stipulation to downvoting that makes compulsory the leaving of an optionally anonymous comment specifying the reason 4 DV. Would you like to invite discussion by framing this as a meta question? – English Student Jul 4 '17 at 0:27
  • @aparente001 your very pertinent point adds an interesting dimension to this topic. I forgot an explanatory comment might be rude, but I should prefer even a nasty comment explaining the reason for downvoting, and I daresay Robbie G would as well! There could also be a provision to protect the identity of the downvoter while explaining the reason for the DV. If the reason given does not convince us we shall ignore it. If the comment is offensive we shall flag it. The anonymous downvote is not at all helpful because it offers no feedback and gives us no suggestion to help improve the post. – English Student Jul 5 '17 at 3:55

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