“Firstly,” “secondly,” and “thirdly” are all ways to list things out in writing. It gives a structure or order to events, and that’s great in many cases. However, there are better alternatives that it’s worth knowing about. This article will share the best ones with you.
What Can I Say Instead Of “Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly” In Writing?
To help you get better at writing out lengthy lists, you might be interested in trying one of the following alternatives:
- First of all
- One example is
- Another example is
- The last example is
- To begin
- One reason is
- Another reason is
- Most importantly
The preferred version is “first of all,” which would go on to be “second of all” and “third of all.” We can use them when we want to list things in order, and they all work much better in writing than “firstly,” “secondly,” and “thirdly.”
First Of All
“First of all” works well when we continue the list with “second of all” and “third of all.” These are useful because it allows us to number our examples specifically. In writing, this flow helps many readers to understand how different things connect with each other.
We can use these forms in both formal and informal writing. That’s what makes them so useful to us, and we recommend you get used to using them. They are much more suitable formally than “firstly” and their counterparts.
Here are some examples to show you how it works:
- First of all, one of you needs to tell me where to find the key for the chest.
- Second of all, once I have opened the chest, we will follow the map that it contains to the treasure.
- Third of all, we will locate said treasure, dig it up, and split it amongst ourselves.
“First” also works well when we drop “of all.” We can continue the list with “second” and “third,” which again are associated with the numbers one, two, and three, respectively. It’s helpful to use a phrase like this in many written formats.
Just like “first of all,” “first” is a great choice for formal writing. Some people prefer it without the “of all” ending, which is why we thought it should be placed high on this list.
- First, I would like to discuss the matter that surrounds the pollution in our lakes.
- Second, I would like to try and find some common ground that will allow us to figure out the solution.
- Third, I would like to see evidence that new legislation has been put in place to correct the pollution problems.
One Example Is
“One example is” works well when we want to start a list. It can act like “first of all,” where we want to start a list. However, using “one example is” does not always have to begin a list, which is why it can work quite well in written cases.
Sometimes, we might just want to use “one example is” to list an example of something we spoke about before. Once that example has been stated, there might not be a reason for us to continue listing more examples.
Here are some examples:
- One example is that many chimps do not get the same diets like the ones in the wild.
- One example is that there are plenty of different ways for us to help the oceans by binning our plastics.
- One example is the theory that everything comes from nothing and how perplexing that is.
Another Example Is
“Another example is” would be the continuation from “one example is.” We can use it when we want to list a second example, which might add to the list. However, we can also stop the list after this second “example.” It does not always need to come in threes.
Here are some examples of how you might use it:
- Another example is that other zoos are not as eco-friendly as they would like the people to believe.
- Another example is that we should be working a lot harder to clean up our local parks.
- Another example is that there are plenty of ways people would tackle the trolley problem, but none of them are honest solutions.
The Last Example Is
“The last example is” would be the third installment of the “example” list from above. We can use it when we want to close out the list because we use “last” to show that no further examples will be spoken of.
You might benefit from reading through these examples to see how it works:
- The last example is that there are never enough free-roaming spaces for many of the animals in our zoos.
- The last example is that billionaires do not seem to care about the current state of the world.
- The last example is that philosophy presents problems that no one really wants to solve.
“To begin” is a great way to start a list. It’s much more open-ended than the other choices in this article. If we were going to continue on this list, we would use a phrase like “continuing on” to show that there is more to our train of thought.
These examples should help you to make more sense of it:
- To begin, I would like to discuss all the matters that we raised in the previous meeting.
- To begin, it would be wise if you told me what the problems were and how you have remedied them.
- To begin, I would like to divert your attention to the figure below, as what it contains might shock you.
One Reason Is
“One reason is” is another great way to start a list. However, just like “one example is,” it does not have to begin a list at all. We can simply use it to state a single “reason,” which we then clarify and move on to our next point.
If we wanted to continue “one reason is,” we would do so in the same way as “one example is.” They are almost identical, though “reasons” are usually explanations of a previous point, while “examples” simply show what we are talking about.
Here are a few examples to help you with it:
- One reason is that people have stopped caring about their neighbors, and the world seems further apart than ever.
- One reason is that many people are scared to go out to local supermarkets anymore.
- One reason is that the government was never designed to be a trustworthy organization.
Another Reason Is
“Another reason is” would allow us to continue the list of “one reason is.” We could also use “the last reason is” if we wanted to close the list. These phrases work well when we want to show how different reasons might impact the things we are writing about.
Here are some examples to help you understand them:
- Another reason is that the age of technology has made it even harder to socialize and make friends.
- Another reason is that online shopping just happens to be a more lucrative thing to do these days.
- Another reason is that people have become naturally more untrusting since they gained access to the news.
“Finally” works when we want to finish any list. It allows us to share our “final” point, which is usually one of the most important ones. The more important we can make the final point, the more potent our writing tends to be.
Here are a few good examples:
- Finally, I would like for you to consider why you are even reading this article if you do not care.
- Finally, I would like to know why so many people pretend that the world is fine.
- Finally, we have to figure out how to fix these issues before it’s too late.
“Most importantly” is another way we can end a list. It works well to replace the final item in a list when we know it is the “most important” of all to mention. It’s a superlative phrase, which considers the final item as the one the readers should focus their attention on.
Here are a few ways we can use this one correct:
- Most importantly, I think we should all start caring a little more about each other.
- Most importantly, someone is out there right now thinking about the same thing you are.
- Most importantly, it’s not all about you, and you need to give a little back to the world.
“Lastly” is another great way to close a list. It can replace a word like “thirdly” if there are only three items. Again, we typically want our “lastly” point to be the most important, but this does not always need to be the case, depending on what you are writing about.
Here are a few examples to show it to you:
- Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who took the time to read this message.
- Lastly, I think it’s important that we do not forget our roots.
- Lastly, I believe that someone else will be continuing on my efforts, so at least they weren’t in vain.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.