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First, secondly and colons

(6 Posts)
LadyBee Sun 21-Jun-09 16:51:38

Hi - can you lovely pedants please take a look at the text below:


As in the post-war settlement years, in the 1990s the ?efficient management? of welfare services has gained a prominent position on the agenda of European governments for two main reasons. First, it is a response to the criticism by the public choice school of a rigid, remote and unrepresentative welfare state technocracy (Self, 1993). Secondly, it arises from the need to implement cost-saving strategies and avoid unpopular and politically costly decisions.


Do you think that it should be "First, it is... . Second, ..." instead of First, secondly?

And do you think that "two main reasons" is ok to be followed by a full stop and then two separate sentences rather than a colon? is the punctuation ok?


sparkybabe Sun 21-Jun-09 18:55:31

I think it should be firstly,.. secondly,... but it reads ok. I agree the "two main reasons" should be followed but a colon, but I suppose the reason it isn't is that it would make the sentence a bit too long and unwieldy.

What's with the ?efficient management? bit? Is it like the Spanish where a question sentence is preceeded by an upside-down question-mark?

cattj Sun 21-Jun-09 19:16:32

The question marks will be "smart quotes", pasted from some software of Microsoft origin.

"Smart quotes" are not valid characters in HTML documents. "Smart quotes" are those that "curl in" towards the quoted words.

senua Sun 21-Jun-09 19:32:21

Guardian says first/ second.
Times says first/secondly is acceptable.
Both agree that firstly is wrong.

LadyBee Sun 21-Jun-09 20:39:08

Sorry about the question marks, yes they should be quote marks - strange I think it looked ok in the preview but maybe I didn't look that closely.
Those links are useful, thanks very much.

AllFallDown Mon 22-Jun-09 13:44:25

First and second is much nicer than firstly and secondly. It's correct and it's shorter, which is what you should go for (all those "smart" sounding versions - whilst, amongst etc - should be eschewed in favour of plain English).

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