first [ fɜrst ] function word ***
First can be used in the following ways:
as a number:
This is the first car I've ever owned.
as a pronoun:
It's often tougher for a team in their second year than their first.
as an adverb:
Speak to me first, before you do anything.
as a sentence adverb (making a comment on the whole sentence or clause):
First, I want to explain the purpose of this meeting.
as a noun:
That visit was a first for me.
1. ) before any others or before everything else
a ) coming, happening, or starting before all the others:
He has two daughters from his first marriage and a son from his second.
Julia got there first, but Susan arrived just a few minutes later.
I was first in line so I think I should be served first.
the first: The lecture is the first in a series that will be presented at the university.
b ) if you do something first, you do it before you do anything else:
First, let's go around the room and introduce ourselves.
Can't I just finish reading this article first?
c ) used for introducing the thing that comes before the others in a series or list:
There is a strict procedure you must follow: first make sure the safety catch is on.
d ) used for referring to a thing or place that you reach before any other when you are going somewhere:
Take the first road on the right.
It's the first house that you come to.
2. ) never done before
a ) used for referring to something that has never happened before, or has not happened since a particular time:
This will be Kenny's first trip overseas.
I first met him in 1980.
the first: The strike is the first in the industry since 1987.
the first time: I remember the first time I went to church.
b ) the first used for referring to someone who does something that no one has ever done before, or that no one has done since a particular time:
Who was the first man on the moon?
Has anyone else visited you? No, you're the first.
the first to do something: Hillary and Norgay were the first to climb Everest.
c ) a first something that has never happened before and is therefore important or exciting:
He cooked me a meal, which was a first for him.
3. ) at the beginning of something
a ) at the beginning of a period of time, a situation, an activity, etc.:
They borrowed $65 million to cover the first six months of 1993.
When I first started running, I could do a mile in nine minutes.
The first few days of our vacation were wonderful.
4. ) more important than anyone or anything else
a ) used for giving an important fact or reason that will be followed by other less important facts:
There are four reasons. First, the company has to make money.
b ) used for referring to the main or most important thing:
His first love was music.
Our first consideration must be the safety of the passengers.
5. ) better than anyone or anything else better than anyone or anything else in a game, competition, etc.:
Karen has always been first in her class.
come first: Phil Gray came first in the under-12 competition.
first prize/place: Crowe's book of poems won first prize in last year's competition.
6. ) university degree in the U.K. and Australia, the highest grade for an UNDERGRADUATE degree from a university:
get a first in something: He got a first in maths from Imperial College.
7. ) the lowest gear used for referring to the lowest GEAR of a car, bicycle, etc.:
Shift down to first gear.
Now put the car in first.
at first
in the beginning before something changes:
At first he wouldn't even talk about it.
at first sight/glance
at the moment when you first see something or find out about something, before you know more details:
At first glance, the theory seems to make a lot of sense.
There was nothing especially attractive about him at first sight.
come first
to be the most important person or thing to someone:
My children will always come first, and they know that.
come first with: Does business always come first with Luke?
first and foremost
used for emphasizing the main point or the most important reason for something:
He was first and foremost an educator who cared about his students.
Why not get a job that pays more? First and foremost, because I really like what I'm doing.
first choice
the thing or person you like more than all the others
first come, first served
used for saying that if you arrive before other people you will be served or dealt with before them
first of all SPOKEN
1. ) used for introducing the first of several things that you are going to say:
First of all, I'd like to give you a little background information.
2. ) before doing anything else:
First of all, clean the surface that you are going to paint.
first off SPOKEN
used for introducing the first of a series of things that you are going to say:
First off, I want to tell you how much I like your work.
the first someone hears/knows of something
the moment that someone hears/finds out about something new, especially when other people already know about it
first thing (in the morning)
at the very beginning of the day
first things first
used for saying that the most important things should be dealt with before anything else
from the (very) first
from the beginning:
It was obvious from the first that they would win.
in the first instance BRITISH FORMAL
at the beginning of a series of actions:
These scholarships will normally be awarded for one year in the first instance, with a likely extension.
in the first place
1. ) used for stating the most basic reason for something:
There were several reasons he couldn't sleep. In the first place, Peg snored.
2. ) at the beginning of a situation:
If you don't like her, why invite her in the first place?
make the first move
to take action before anyone else
not know the first thing/not have the first idea about something
to not know anything about a subject or not have the skills to do something
put someone/something first
to decide that someone or something is more important than anything else:
I always put my marriage first.

Usage of the words and phrases in modern English. 2013.

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