The Under the Dome blog refers to grammar types who are irked by the phrase “first annual.” I think it’s the journalist types (subset copy editors) who are most irked by the phrase. We are taught that an event should not be referred to as the “first annual” because it hasn’t become “annual” until it has occurred in several consecutive years.
The people who use “first annual” are optimistic organizers who expect the event they plan to occur again, year after year. We journalists are compelled to hold them to account. We can’t buy into their rosy outlook. We can’t write that an event is “annual,” let alone “first annual,” until it happens again a year or so later. I don’t even like second annual. That’s not good enough for me. I will hold off granting “annual” until it has happened for, say, three consecutive years. Of course, by then, the event could be the “last annual.”
This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.