Firstly and Secondly

Could anyone, particularly a native speaker, give examples of the use of ‘firstly’ and ‘secondly’. Usually I hear people say ‘firstly’ when they are supposed to say ‘first’ as in the following sentence: Firstly, let me introduce myself to you.

***** NOT A TEACHER *****

Hello, Anglophile:

According to my books and from my reading American newspapers and magazines, I think that the following points are accurate:

  1. Both forms (with and without -ly) are correct.
  2. The -ly forms are considered by many American handbooks as old-fashioned.
  3. One expert says that even if you use “secondly,” “thirdly,” you should start with “FIRST.”

As you know, Americans love to cut to the chase or get to the point. They like snappy writing. So the use of the -ly forms is considered by most American writers as totally unnecessary. (In fact, it might mark you as a non-native speaker!)


That’s not just the case in AmE, James. I would consider anyone using such a prescriptive format as likely to be a non native English speaker in BrE too.

I tend to accept this view, James. In fact I use it so.