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shǒu xiān
adv./conj. first, before all others; first of all, in the first place
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Why are there multiple words for first?
Shīya3
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首先 vs 先

1. 首先 can be used as a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence:
E.g. 首先,我们做个计划。First of all, let's make a plan.
When 首先 is an adverb it appears after the subject before the verb:
E.g. 我们首先发言。We deliver the speech first (before all others).

2. 先 when it is an adverb meaning "first, before"cannot appear at the beginning of a sentence. E.g. 我们先发言。

3. 先 has a whole bunch of other meanings that 首先 does not have.
lisaC
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