Saturday, August 24, 2013

First annual or inaugural?

Is it right to say “first annual” about an event (ex: first annual company picnic) or is it a contradiction of terms? Annual implies that the event has been taking place once every year. Therefore, at the time of the initial event the implication would be false because nothing has happened yet.

While beginning an annual tradition may be the intention, the general rule is that language has to describe the current state of affairs, not an intention of something happening
 in the future. Therefore, the first event cannot be called annual. It can, however, be called inaugural, which sufficiently signals the intention to make something into a series. The second event can be called second annual.
Some writers and editors, however, prefer to wait until the third year (to confirm that the tradition is truly established) before they start calling it annual.

This rule does not apply to financial arrangements, in which the person is expected to follow a pre-determined payment schedule. Ex: first monthly payment; first annual contribution.

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