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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    first or the first

    Can I say: "He was first to (do something)" or should I always say: "He was THE first to (do something)"?
    I mean, not "the first person to (do)...", but "(THE?) first to (do)".
    Such an essential and basic issue, but keeps bothering me.
    Thank you!
    Last edited by mrtke; 27-May-2015 at 23:07.

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: first or the first

    It would be correct to say "was the first to do something".

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    #3

    Re: first or the first

    Welcome to the forum, mrtke.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrtke View Post
    Can I say: "He was first to (do something)" or should I always say: "He was THE first to (do something)"?

    It's such an essential and basic issue, but it keeps bothering me.
    Both versions are correct.

  3. Newbie
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    #4

    Re: first or the first

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post

    Both versions are correct.
    Is that absolutely correct to say, e.g. "Mike was first to reach the shore?"

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: first or the first

    Quote Originally Posted by mrtke View Post
    Is that it absolutely (tautologous) correct to say, e.g. "Mike was first to reach the shore"?
    Since you've been told that both "first" and "the first" are correct in your first post, what do you think?
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  5. Newbie
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    #6

    Re: first or the first

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Since you've been told that both "first" and "the first" are correct in your first post, what do you think?
    Oh, dear.
    Once I was told something else (that "the first..." was the only correct version).

    Then I learnt both versions are correct.

    I wouldn't have asked if I was sure, but I'm not - why the aggression?
    Last edited by mrtke; 30-May-2015 at 10:39.

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    #7

    Re: first or the first

    I sensed no aggression — maybe a touch of exasperation at having to answer the same question twice.

  6. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: first or the first

    I find the one without "the" off. Maybe personal opinion but maybe an AmE/BrE difference?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  7. Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: first or the first

    'Someone was first to do something.'
    'Someone was happy to do something.'
    Both are correct because both 'first' and 'happy' are adjectives.
    Am I right or wrong? Not a teacher.

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