Inaugural not “First Annual”, You Commies.

With all the talk about the upcoming Cleveland Ingenuity Festival, I’ve had plenty of exposure to my greatest grammar pet peeve. I wouldn’t even have this almost psychopathic hatred of this common mistake if it weren’t for my high school communications and journalism teacher, Mr. Glowacki.

There is no such thing as FIRST ANNUAL.

The word you want is INAUGURAL.

This is not the FIRST ANNUAL Cleveland Ingenuity Festival. What if it doesn’t happen next year? Won’t be annual then, will it? It should be the INAUGURAL Cleveland Ingenuity Festival.

Local media culprits:
Cool Cleveland
Cleveland Free Times [No online evidence, at least until they get some of the more recent issues up]

Local Media Heros
[is it just me or do all those radio sites look the bloody same?]
Cleveland Jewish News and WGAR don’t say inaugural or “first annual” and it doesn’t appear that any of the TV stations are covering it.

17 thoughts on “Inaugural not “First Annual”, You Commies.

  1. hehehehe.

    I have my grammar pet peeves too, like folks that do not know the proper uses of you’re and your. That one drives me barking mad.

  2. ah yes…i remember the “first annual” versus “inagural” debate. and that dope john pause came in and had no idea why what he put on the tv was wrong. what a goon.

  3. Hm. I didn’t know about the decimate thing. And the destruction one sounds like a similar thing I heard about baldness. A man is either bald or not bald. There is no balding.

  4. ah, language arguments. love ’em.

    decimate seems to have originally meant killing 1 in every 10 soldiers (by the roman army), but has evolved over time to mean “killing/destroying a large portion” of…

    the thing about language is that (1) WE created it to (2) serve the purpose of communication. if (1) WE decide to change it and (2) it is still effective in its purpose of communicating, can we really argue that the change/evolution is wrong/incorrect/etc.? i understand perfectly well what someone is saying if they tell me they “partially destroyed” a building, just as i’d understand if they said a project was “partially complete.” should “partially” not be a viable word, then, if it (in effect) changes the meaning of the word (usually a word that implies an extreme of some kind, correct?) it is modifying? where do you draw the line if one’s grammar can be logically argued, but understood nonetheless?

    i have argued my friends to their complete aggravation over whether ebonics is a legitimate language/dialect; it evolved/was created to communicate and it is effective at doing so… sure, it’s borrowed heavily from english, but why hold it to the standards of english? english borrowed, too!

    where would we be if humanity had insisted on NOT CHANGING ANYTHING since medieval times? why is it okay that we don’t speak old english anymore, but not okay that we’re seeing modern english change?

    at the same time, i see how “first annual” makes no sense. i am still an english major, hehe. but language is not like mathematics. no one is trying to “solve” the perfect sentence. mathematics is found, discovered; english is created.

    /comment hijacking

  5. Yeah, I’m sorta with you Lyndsey. I lean toward the descriptivist camp, if you can pluck meaning from whatever is said then it should be okay. Prescriptivism puts weigh two mutch emphasis on following each and every rule. I guess I feel that you should at least know all the rules, even if you don’t pay attention to them.

  6. Okay, I’m game so I’m gonna swim up the stream of majority opinion here on this one…

    The meaning of “first” used with “annual” in the world of events makes some sense. Picture the use of “first” with a biennial or triennial event. Inaugural is okay but doesn’t convey annual like everybody seems to be saying; example in fact… a president is inaugurated but that doesn’t happen every year. In fact you could say that Bush gave his “second inaugural” address (unfortunately), which of course means that he did deliver a “first inaurural” one (prior unfortunately)… so do you see what I mean?

    So…. “first inugural” actually conveys more meaning then either word by itself, especially for an event that will repeat.

    Does that help or not? Do you hate me or not?

    All the Best,
    Steve FitzGerald

  7. Shalom Adam,

    I am in complete agreement. Dr. Dru Evarts, lovingly called Conan the Grammarian by her students, drilled that and other hated phrases into our poor brains like:

    There is so such thing as being proactive, you act or react. Unless you have ESP, you cannot proact.

    If you a greater number of something you have more than that number, not over that number. Over denotes spatial relationship, not quantity.

    If that’s what you think, you have another think coming, not thing.

    To decimate something means to remove 1/10th, not to destroy it.

    And speaking of destruction, you cannot partially destroy a building. You can, however, destroy a part of a building.

    The list goes on and on. Oh, if the world only had more teachers like Dru.



  8. Shalom Y’all,

    I’m all for new words, but the reason we have dictionaries is not so that people can find out how to spell words, but rather so that we can all agree on what we’re saying to each other when we talk.

    If I yell, “Quick! Jump!” I hope you jump out of the way of the falling safe and don’t begin demonstrating some Hip Hop dance step.

    When we change evolve the meaning of words, that’s one thing — girl used to mean any child still in “skirts,” which is why a boy’s first pair of pants was such a big deal — but when we get sloppy, the communication suffers.



  9. There is no such thing as FIRST ANNUAL.

    The word you want is INAUGURAL.

    This is not the FIRST ANNUAL Cleveland Ingenuity Festival. What if it doesn’t happen next year? Won’t be annual then, will it? It should be the INAUGURAL Cleveland Ingenuity Festival.

    Based on your example, at least, you’re incorrect, as “inaugural” also means the first of a series. “First annual” also conveys a sense of when the next event in the series is scheduled to occur.

    The only way your example would be correct is if the festival didn’t happen again in a year, but in (e.g.) 2 years.

  10. This has always been very straight forward for me:

    The first time you do something that is intended to initiate a series of similar events is the inaugral. Which is the definition of the word – i.e. serving to set in motion; “the magazine’s inaugural issue”;

    The second time you do it is the FIRST annual because it is the FIRST time you are holding it again at the agreed frequency.

    So when people are having a golf tournament that they have had for the previous 4 years, it is the 4th Annual as it is the 5th time for the event but the first one was called the inaugral!



  11. To make this even clearer ask yourself the universally agreed definition of “FIRST Birthday”!

    When I was inaugral I cried like a baby!!


  12. I found two sources:

    In response to a question submitted at:
    “I believe that “first annual” is normally used (and perceived) as a slightly tongue-in-cheek expression of the intention to establish an annual event, and I see no reason not to use it. “Inaugural” poses a similar problem, in that nobody knows for certain that the event will recur. Regardless, the second event in the series is called the “second annual.” It’s not the same as the first birthday or first anniversary of an event–it is the second occurrence.

    Thank you for writing–
    Chicago Manual of Style


    This declaration is in the APStyle Book:

    Annual – An event cannot be described as annual until it has been held in at least two successive years. Do not use the term first annual. Instead, note that sponsors plan to hold an event annually.

  13. I hate the use of “dead body” in the news…
    Police found a dead body outside the local 7-11. It is a body… we know it is a dead person because they didn’t say found a man or woman… they just have to say body.
    Only way you need dead body is when saying over my dead body… to clarify that your own body would have to be dead!!!

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