Use of 'firstly'


Is there such a word as 'firstly' and am I using it in the correct context. Any other suggestions/corrections for the sentence are most welcome.  The draft sentence is as follows:

"The property's zone will firstly determine if a planning application is needed to use existing floor space for a home-based business, or if the proposal can be self-assessed. Secondly, overlays or a neighbourhood plan apply and may change this level of assessment."


TIA, Susan

asked Jan 12 '14 at 23:20 Susan Smith New member

1 answer


Yes, firstly is a word.  Most people (in the US) think firstly sounds a bit archaic and just say first.  Though (oddly) secondly is used frequently, I suggest being consistent if you are using both in a sentence:  first and second, or firstly and secondly.  Actually, I don't know if you need either here in this context.  The zoning laws determine the regulation, but overlays or a neghborhood plan might have stricter rules.  It is a bit redundant to say that something that may cause change comes second.  It obviously couldn't come first.


Both sentences sound awkward to me.  When you put first along with determine, it seems that the subject will be doing one thing and then another.  Of course, the property zone isn't taking any steps.  It is being used for the first step, right?  I would separate first and determine of you still use first.  


Your first sentence could use some parallelism.  The sentence boils down to: It will determine if this is needed or if that can beI'd go with something like: It will determine whether this is necessary or if that is allowed.

link answered Jan 13 '14 at 00:28 Patty T Grammarly Fellow

Thanks Patty. I really appreciate your answer. What needs to happen in this case is that first of all the zone means whether an application is or isn't needed. Then even if the zone says it isn't needed, there could be an overlay or neighbourhood plan that then specifies that it is required. I'll have to have a good relook at this sentence so this is clear.

Susan SmithJan 13 '14 at 01:02

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