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Second vs. Secondly: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 2, 2023
'Second' is a numerical position or a brief time period; 'secondly' is an adverb used to introduce the second point or step in a sequence.

Key Differences

The word 'second' refers to the ordinal form of the number two, indicating the position after first. In contrast, 'secondly' is an adverb used to introduce the second item in a list or argument.
'Second' can also denote a very brief period of time, specifically one-sixtieth of a minute. 'Secondly' has no temporal meaning and is exclusively used to denote sequence in written or spoken discourse.
In measurement, 'second' might refer to a unit of time or angle. 'Secondly' does not pertain to measurement but serves as a transitional signal in language, helping to organize thoughts or points.
'Second' can also function as a verb, meaning to support or formally endorse someone or something. 'Secondly' cannot be a verb; it does not imply action but rather order within communication.
A 'second' can also be a person who comes next in a duel or boxing match to assist. 'Secondly' would never be used in this context, as it does not refer to people but to the order of information.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Noun, adjective, verb


Indicates order, measures time/angle, supports
Introduces the second point in sequence

Usage in Time

Yes (time unit)

Usage in Sequence

Yes (ordinal number)
Yes (adverbial sequence connector)

Verbal Usage

Can be used as a verb ("to second")
No verbal usage

Second and Secondly Definitions


A unit of time, 1/60 of a minute.
Just give me a second to explain.


Introducing the second point or reason.
Secondly, we must consider the environmental impact.


Immediately following the first in order.
She finished the race in second place.


Serving as the second element in a sequence.
Firstly, collect the data; secondly, analyze it.


A person who assists in a duel or boxing corner.
His second rushed into the ring to check on him.


As a subsequent point in an argument.
Secondly, our research contradicts these findings.


To endorse or support a proposal or motion.
I second the motion for a recess.


Coming next after the first in a written or spoken series.
I would like to point out, secondly, that we need more volunteers.


Another chance given.
He was grateful for a second chance at the interview.


In the second place in order or rank.
Secondly, the issue of funding cannot be ignored.


A unit of time equal to one sixtieth of a minute.


In the second place; second.


The time needed for a cesium-133 atom to perform 9,192,631,770 complete oscillations. See Table at measurement.


Can 'second' refer to support in a debate?

Yes, to 'second' a motion means to support it.

Is 'secondly' proper grammar?

Yes, 'secondly' is proper grammar when listing points.

Does 'secondly' imply a hierarchy?

'Secondly' implies an order but not necessarily a hierarchy.

Is 'secondly' necessary in a list?

'Secondly' is not mandatory but helps clarify sequence.

Can 'secondly' be used without 'firstly'?

It can be, but it's less common and might seem awkward.

Is 'second' used in sports?

Yes, 'second' can denote position, as in coming in second place.

Can 'second' be used as an adverb?

No, 'second' is not typically used as an adverb.

Can 'second' indicate more than time?

Yes, 'second' can refer to order or an assistant in a duel.

What does 'a second' mean in casual speech?

It usually means a brief moment.

Can 'secondly' be used in formal writing?

Yes, 'secondly' is often used in formal writing.

Is 'second' ever used in the context of music?

Yes, it can refer to the second beat or a musical interval.

Is 'secondly' only used in writing?

No, it's used in both speech and writing.

What is a 'second hand'?

It refers to the hand that measures seconds on a clock.

How do you pronounce 'second'?

It is pronounced as 'SEK-und'.

Can 'second' mean another opportunity?

Yes, it can mean another chance to do something.

Does 'secondly' have synonyms?

Yes, synonyms include 'next' or 'then'.

Can 'secondly' be used in all types of essays?

Yes, but its use may vary depending on style guides.

Does 'second' have a plural form?

Yes, 'seconds' can refer to multiple units of time or multiple positions.

Can 'secondly' be used in the beginning of a sentence?

Yes, 'secondly' can start a sentence when listing points.

Can 'secondly' be replaced with 'second'?

In adverbial use, 'second' is less formal but generally acceptable.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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