I'm not a native English speaker. So I'm a little bit confused about the difference among the class, course and lecture. And today, an English teacher educated in a very famous university in our country said that if you have three classes a day at school, you can't just say the second class to refer to the second one of them because the second class in English means to be subordinate, like second-class citizens. Hence, there are some disapproving meanings attached to it. I was quite shocked to hear this, since it's almost the most common expression in my mind. So I searched for it on the Internet, and found out that a course means a series of classes about a particular subject in a school, which means a course is more than one class, and a lecture would be more like a speech rather than a class, usually taken place in campuses. Please tell me whether that English teacher's opinion is true or not.

1 Answer 1


The teacher is both right and wrong.

It is perfectly true that if you describe something as second class the implication is that it is inferior to something first class. However anything can be the second using it in a purely ordinal sense so the second class of the course is the one between the first and the third. If you want to avoid any possible doubt just say the second class of the day.

  • Hyphens help. My second class teacher of the day is not a second-class teacher. Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 15:34
  • Please allow me to ask one more question, which I didn't express clearly above. Is my distinguishment to the lecture, class and course right? Sorry to bother you again. Commented Mar 6, 2022 at 4:54
  • Yes they seem OK. There are other words and I suspect US practice may be different from UK so the full story may be quite complicated.
    – mdewey
    Commented Mar 6, 2022 at 13:37

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