12 Other Ways to Say “Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly”

Essays are hard to write, and it’s only natural for you to have questions.

Right now, you’re probably wondering what to say instead of “firstly, secondly, thirdly” to mix up your essay and academic writing.

Luckily, we’re here to help! This article will explore other words you can use to help keep things fresh.

Other Ways to Say “Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly”

  • To begin
  • To start with
  • First
  • One reason is
  • Following from that
  • After that
  • Second
  • The next reason is
  • Finally
  • Lastly
  • Third
  • The last reason is


  • “Firstly, secondly, thirdly” are correct and formal, though they are overused and can sound repetitive.
  • Try combining “to begin, following from that, finally” to mix things up when listing multiple points as sentences.
  • “To start with, after that, lastly” is great to use as another option that sounds more conversational.

There are plenty of great options, and it would help to know the best ways to combine them in your writing. Keep reading to learn more about the best formal and informal combinations to order your sentences.

You can also go to the final section to learn more about “firstly, secondly, thirdly.” We’ve written whether it’s correct to use them in your formal essays.

To Begin, Following On From That, Finally (Formal)

“To begin, following from that, finally” is one of the best formal synonyms you can use here. It works well in academic writing when you’re trying to list points in a specific order.

You’ll mainly find a use for this combination in essays when explaining your thought process. It clarifies an order for the reader, allowing them to follow your train of thought as they go.

“Firstly, secondly, thirdly” and “to begin, following on from that, finally” are both effective in essays. You can switch between the two to ensure you don’t use any repetitive words.

Here are some ordered examples to show you how it looks:

To begin, I would like to discuss the matters at hand. It is very important to go through these.

Following on from that, the variables must be clearly defined. This is integral to ensuring the experiment goes well.

Finally, the experiment can begin. Only then will the information be clear.

To Start With, After That, Lastly (Informal)

“To start with, after that, lastly” is an excellent synonym that works both formally and informally. Typically, you’ll use this one in essays to impress the reader and keep them engaged.

You don’t have to use this group of words in academic papers. That’s what makes it slightly less formal than the other options. Still, it’s a great variation and works well when writing to inform.

“To start with, after that, lastly” still gives you a great alternative to “firstly, secondly, thirdly.” While we don’t encourage it in fully academic papers (as there are better options), it still works well in many formal essays.

Check out some of these examples to give you more information:

To start with, I would like to demonstrate my methods. It’s good for us to be on the same page.

After that, there needs to be a brief window of downtime. Otherwise, the team might get overwhelmed.

Lastly, I’ll put everything to the test. That way, I’ll find out if my methods were successful.

Is It Correct to Say “Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly”?

“Firstly, secondly, thirdly” is correct and formal. You can absolutely use the three words in academic writing to list things in order of importance.

Generally, “firstly, secondly, thirdly” is overused. Many writers use them when they can’t think of anything else to write. For that reason, it’s not always wise to include them in an essay, as they could make you sound repetitive.

Technically speaking, you could even continue the list based on how many points you want to raise. To do this, you would write:

  • Fourthly
  • Fifthly

However, things get a little jarring once you get past three points. While it still makes logical sense, you shouldn’t use “fourthly” and “fifthly” if you can avoid them.

You can also drop the “-ly” ending from any of the adverbs. The following are both correct:

  • Firstly, I would like to discuss my plans.
  • First, I would like to explore these options.

The “-ly” is not necessary to the sentence. However, you must stay consistent depending on which word you use.

You must either say “firstly, secondly, thirdly” or “first, second, third.” Don’t mix the two.

You can always come back here to remind yourself of the best ways to list your sentences. That way, you’ll always have something new and fresh to use in your writing.