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Phase out use of ‘first annual’

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Chris MetitationsBy Chris Edwards

Last week, a lot of folks were likely left scratching their heads at a video posted by rap-rocker/fedora enthusiast Kid Rock. In the viral clip, Rock opened fire on several cases of the beer-flavored water known as Bud Light.

The purpose of the ridiculous video, from what most spectators have deduced, is to protest the “beer” goliath’s association with a trans person, Dylan Mulvaney, who is an internet celebrity of sorts (the kids call ‘em “influencers”).

Ridiculous as the clip was, what I found appalling (aside from Rock’s poor marksmanship and the inherent transphobia) was the message on the back of the hoodie he sported in the video. It advertised “The First Annual Kid Rock Fish Fry.”

If Kid Rock’s music weren’t bad enough, the low-rent icon has to sport a garment screaming a grammatical error. Sidenote: the video is all kinds of ironic since Kid Rock is, for all intents and purposes, a sentient can of watery light beer.

Folks, the springtime is here and as such, it is a fine time to host fundraisers, parties and various happenings where people can find good times.

However, when you are planning that event, if it is something that you want to use as a cornerstone for a new tradition; something that can reoccur year after year after year, there is one thing you need to not do.

Please, for the love of all that is righteous and holy, do not use the term “first annual” in promoting your shindig.

Sure, that couplet of words might roll off the tongue and might fill more space on a flyer than “inaugural,” or on the other end of the spectrum, might be more succinct than “first in a planned series of annual events,” but the problem is, it is incorrect.

I get so many emails, messages, smoke signals, etc., describing events that are coming up. It can be the most professional-looking press release in the world promoting an event, but if I see that “first annual” nonsense in a headline, I’m probably not going to read any further.

Simply put, an event cannot be considered to be annual until it has been held for at least two successive years, and that is not some esoteric stylistic thing native to the newspaper world, no, that is just good grammar at work.

Now, if those events become successful (and I cross my fingers that every fundraiser, party, family reunion, barbecue cook-off does) then they can become annual happenings, provided there are enough willing hands on deck to do the work to produce said events.

The general rule of thumb, grammatically speaking, is at least two successive years allows for that “annual” signifier to be used.

Now, instead of “inaugural” as a descriptor, the phrase “this is the first of what is planned as an annual series of events” can also fill that void.

“First ever” also works, but, again, there is no such thing as a “first annual” anything, so stop saying it, and stop writing it.

The moral of the day: it’s great to have goals, and while the oxymoronic term “first annual” indicates the presence of goals for events, don’t be presumptuous and be better regarding grammar.

Oh, and if you’re going to shoot up cans of beer, you’ll still have to pay for them.


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