So, you’ve found yourself using “first priority” in your writing. You’re probably trying to find out whether it’s correct to use this phrase, and you’ve come to the right place!
We’ve got all the answers to help you understand if “first priority” is grammatically correct.
Is It Correct to Say “First Priority”?
“First priority” is correct English and appropriate when listing priorities. “First” modifies “priority” to show that it’s the most important thing in a group of tasks. You will find it in a sentence like “this project is my first priority.” It explains the importance of something relative to others.
Here’s a quick demonstration of how to use “first priority” in a sentence:
- I want this to be your first priority. Don’t worry about anything else until you’ve completed that task.
- She said it was her first priority. Maybe that’s why she took so long to finish all that stuff.
You don’t always need to use “first” to modify “priority.” “Priority” in itself works well here:
- This job is my priority at the minute.
However, “first” does add emphasis to the phrase.
- This job is my first priority at the minute.
“First priority” emphasizes the importance of a task. It also shows that you value it more than other tasks that might be on your “priority list.” It lets someone know that you’ll work on the “first priority” before considering anything else.
Now we’ve shown you that “first priority” is indeed correct to say you might be interested in some alternatives. If you’re not very comfortable using the phrase, you might benefit from a good synonym. We’ve compiled some of the best suggestions to help you know what to say instead of “first priority.”
Other Ways to Say “First Priority”
Other ways to say “first priority” are “top priority,” “priority number one,” and “main focus.” You should use these when showing that something ranks higher in importance than other things. It shows that you value getting one task done before all others, so you will give it the most attention.
1. Top Priority
“Top priority” is by far the best synonym to refer to something that’s the most important compared to others on a list. “Top” modifies “priority” appropriately here, showing that you don’t want to spend time on anything besides the main “priority” at the time.
“Top” means something ranks higher than the rest. You can use it as another way to say “first priority” because it shows that you’ve treated your “priorities” as part of a hierarchy. Naturally, the most important (or “top”) priority will be the one you focus on most.
- This needs to be your top priority. If it isn’t, then I think we’re going to have to look into other options.
- Make this your top priority, please. I’m trying to find the best ways for us to get through these issues together.
2. Priority Number One
“Priority number one” is a great alternative. You might find it in formal emails, making it a great choice when demonstrating how to say “first priority” more professionally.
Using “number one” after “priority” suggests that this priority is the only one you should focus on. It lets other people know that you’re too busy worrying about the “number one” priority to do anything else at the time.
Here’s a quick email example to show you when it might appear:
- Dear Jack,
- I hope you make this task priority number one. I can’t afford to wait around any longer for it.
- All the best,
3. Main Focus
“Main focus” works well as one of the synonyms here. You should use it to show that you’ve got most of your “focus” on something. “Main” modifies “focus” to show that you don’t want to waste time focusing on anything that isn’t already of the highest priority to you.
“Main focus” is a good formal phrase; most email recipients will appreciate it when they see it. It will show them that you are keen to focus on one thing above everything else, meaning they should not provide you with other tasks yet. It’s another good choice that works well in formal emails.
- Dear Adam,
- I’m afraid I already have the main focus and cannot stop working on it until I’ve sorted everything else.
- Kind regards,
4. Biggest Priority
“Biggest priority” is a decent choice for most formal contexts. It shows you have determined the “biggest” (i.e. “most important) priority in a list of tasks to do. This shows that you have a main focus and want to work towards it.
“Biggest” is the superlative form of “big.” It shows that nothing comes close when measuring its size (i.e. its importance). You should use this term when you want to focus most of your efforts on the biggest priorities before worrying about anything else.
- I want this to be my biggest priority. I don’t have much else to share with you right now. Please, leave me.
- If it’s not your biggest priority, then it should be. I think you would benefit from getting some professional help here.
5. Main Priority
“Main priority” is a good choice to show where your focus lies. “Main” implies you are taking on a few tasks, but you have one “main” task that is taking up most of your mental bandwidth. You should use this when you are happy to delegate the smaller tasks to others.
“Main priority” lets people know what you intend to work on. It shows them that you have a main focus and want to stay on top of it to complete it as well as you can. It’s great to use a phrase like this to ensure people understand the importance of the “main priority” to you.
- I want his main priority to be on completing this task. He needs it to be ready before the presentation at five.
- This isn’t his main priority yet, but I’m trying to convince him to change that. I hope you’ll help me get there.
6. Key Focus
“Key focus” is a very professional alternative you can use. It shows you want to “focus” on something that you find to be more important than most things. This works well in professional emails because it shows you have your priorities in order before talking to the recipients.
You should use “key focus” when you want to let people know what your plans are. It will show them that you’re focusing on something specific, which might encourage them to either help you or focus on something else to keep productivity in the workplace high.
- Dear Mr. Rogers,
- I have looked into it and decided on my key focus. I would like to get some funding to help me explore it.
- All the best,
7. Key Priority
“Key priority” combines “key focus” and “top priority” to show that you have found something to be much more important than everything else. You should use this one when you want to focus most of your energy on completing one priority over the others.
“Key” works as the modifier here. It shows that you have found the “priority” to yield the best results. Now, you only have to work on the priority until completion to get what you want out of it.
- What is your key priority, then? It better be something compelling. Otherwise, I’ll have to talk to your supervisor.
- She doesn’t have a key priority, which is why she’s falling behind. We need to get her on the same page as everyone.
8. Most Important
“Most important” is one of the better choices if you’re looking for a simple alternative. It directly states that you have found something to be the most important in a group. This lets people know what to focus on because it is the most “important” thing.
“Priority” and “focus” have been great synonyms so far. However, sometimes it’s best to go back to the basics. That’s why “most important” works so well, as it uses the superlative form “most” to show what you value as the most important thing in a list.
- Dear Rachel,
- Have you figured out what is most important to you yet? I need to know your answer before the end of the day.
- Kind regards,
9. Only Focus
“Only focus” works well because “only” modifies “focus” to show that you do not have time or patience to “focus” on anything else. This lets people know that you’ve found the most important thing to do and will not change your workload until you’ve completed it.
“Only” modifies “focus” to show that you only have space in your head for this one thing. It shows that you are ensuring you complete the task to the best of your ability without allowing other things to distract you.
- This is my only focus, so I don’t have any brainpower left to help you with that. You’ll have to find someone else.
- I’m sorry, but I’ve got my only focus in front of me now. I’m not going to spend any more time on irrelevant things.
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.