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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