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How would you complete the following sequence, until point 10?

  1. Firstly
  2. Secondly
  3. Thirdly ...

Any help would be appreciated.

  • 3
    I wouldn't - at least not following the same pattern of suffixes. You can say 'fourthly' if you wish, but as you continue, it becomes less and less idiomatic. First, second, third, etc., stay more idiomatic in longer sequences. Traditionally, it was "first, secondly, thirdly", if I recall correctly.
    – Wehage
    Jun 11, 2020 at 15:25
  • 1
    Additionally, you may want to read through this thread concerning a similar question: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/13452/…
    – Wehage
    Jun 11, 2020 at 15:49
  • 1
    What @Wehage said. Do yourself a favour and start with First, Second,... And consider carefully whether this level of enumeration actually makes your text any easier to follow - especially if you're going to flag up the ordinal numbers for a "list" format involving four or more sections. Jun 11, 2020 at 17:04

2 Answers 2


How would you complete the following sequence, until point 10?

I wouldn't

I wouldn't even add “secondly” because of the number of points, instead I would divide the list according to urgency or utility.

First and foremost, the law must respect…

Next the following measures are recommended… (mention the five or six items etc.)

After that, (maybe list two items of lesser importance)

Finally / Last but not least,… (list the last item)


Theoretically you can go down as many steps as you want. So fourthly, fifthly, sixthly, and so on... However in reality, it gets problematic when the numbers get above fourthly or fifthly.

Note that we are talking about the ordinal numbers intrinsically (first, second, third...), and ordinal numbers can be both used as adjectives and adverbs. So the -ly suffix used in firstly, secondly is actually nonessential. However as you know, we use them in common speech nonetheless. It is considered "more formal" when the -ly suffix is used compared to the ordinal numbers without the suffix. These adverbs appear often, for example:

"Firstly, it is worth saying that just one model has suggested the North West has an R number of above one." BBC News

"And secondly, we are seeing a change in the nature of surveillance from over the skin surveillance to under the skin surveillance." Al Jazeera

"And thirdly, allowing use of public transport, accommodation changes and shopping trips are holes big enough to fly a jumbo jet through." Daily Mirror

However the less formal ordinal numbers are also used:

"First, the rules are rigged against any new political party... Second, there’s no mass movement... And third, the idea of a self-financing billionaire..." The New Republic

  • Just for the hell of it, I did site-specific searches for both Firstly, it is worth and First, it is worth on bbc/news. Firstly gets 4 hits (only really 3, because one is duplicated), whereas First returns 5 different instances. Make of that what you will. Jun 11, 2020 at 17:11
  • That may be true. However based on what I am seeing nowadays on the news, the websites tend to use the terms like firstly, secondly more often. Maybe it's the other way around. It is not possible for me to check every occurrence of first and firstly on bbc/news or any other website. There are too many results. I am just seeing firstly, secondly etc. more often. That's why I assumed the article writers must think it's "more formal". I don't think one is more formal than the other. To be honest, like Mari-Lou A said, I wouldn't even use "second" or "thirdly" etc.
    – tamuno
    Jun 11, 2020 at 18:15

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