‘1st’ or ‘1th’: Which is Correct?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on November 6, 2023

Are you wondering whether '1st' or '1th' is correct? I can help!

Here is the short answer, in case you are in a rush: 

  • '1st' is the correct numeric abbreviation of the ordinal first. 
  • '1th' is a grammatical error, and it should never be used. 

The brief overview will help you if you need to quickly decide which spelling to use, but there is more to learn. So, keep reading to learn why '1st' is correct and how to abbreviate and pronounce this term and other ordinals.

Which is Correct '1st' or '1th?'

'1st' is an abbreviation of the term firstFirst is an ordinal, which is a number in a group or series of numbered items.

Ordinals are indicated by the addition of a suffix. Numbers without the suffix are called cardinal numbers.

Examples of cardinals are:

  • One - 1
  • Two - 2
  • Three - 3
  • Four - 4
  • Five - 5
  • Six - 6
  • Seven - 7
  • Eight - 8
  • Nine - 9
  • Ten - 10

Examples of ordinal numbers are:

  • First - 1st
  • Second - 2nd
  • Third - 3rd
  • Forth - 4th
  • Fifth - 5th
  • Sixth - 6th
  • Seventh - 7th
  • Eighth - 8th
  • Ninth - 9th
  • Tenth - 10th
  • Eleventh - 11th
  • Twelfth - 12th
  • Thirteenth - 13th
  • Fourteenth - 14th
  • Fifteenth - 15th
  • Sixteenth - 16th
  • Seventeenth - 17th
  • Eighteenth - 18th
  • Nineteenth - 18th
  • Twentieth - 20th

As you can see, when you abbreviate an ordinal, you use the numbers followed by the suffix used to create the ordinal word. So, if the term is thirty-third, the numeric abbreviation is 33rd.

Definition of '1st' or 'First'

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, '1st' is an abbreviation of first, which is an adjective that means:

  • The earliest instance of something
  • Preceding all others in importance, rank, position, or time
  • The main singer or instrument in a musical group
  • The lowest gear or speed of an engine or motor in the forward position

First can also be an adverb that means:

  • Before others in importance, rank, time, or space
  • Often used with of all to mean in the first place
  • The first time
  • In preference to all others

First is also a noun that means:

  • Number one in a series
  • Something that is first, like:
    • The first item or occurrence of a specific kind
    • On a motor, the first forward speed or gear
    • The main voice or instrument in a musical ensemble or group
    • The finest grade of an article of commerce or import or export
    • The highest place or winner in a competition, contest, or examination

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce '1st'

While you are learning how to write this ordinal, it is a good idea to learn its pronunciation. So, here is a pronunciation guide for '1st.'

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce '1st':


When and How to Use '1st'

Knowing how to define '1st' and correctly write the abbreviation of first is great, but how do you know when to use the term instead of the cardinal number one?

Here are some tips to help you know when and how to use '1st' or first:

  • Use '1st' or 'first' when you are giving the rank of someone or something that is in the number one position in a group that is competing.

For example, you could say:

She won 1st place in the swimming competition last month. 


He was in first place at the last track meet, but today, he did not do as well. 

  • Use 'first' when you are writing about someone being the first person to accomplish something.

For example, you might say:

She was the first person in her family to graduate from college. 

  • Use '1st' when you are listing different positions or ranks.

As an example, I might write:

My boyfriend and I entered the competition. He was in 1st position, and I was in 2nd the entire race, and then, our friend passed both of us. So, we ended up finishing in 2nd and 3rd place, respectively.

  • Use '1st' when you are speaking about the first day of the month.

So, you could write:

Our next meeting is on October 1st. If you are interested in joining, you should attend.

Sample Sentences Using '1st'

Now, read these sample sentences using '1st' and other ordinals to ensure that you remember how to abbreviate them.

1st or First

  • First of all, you need to make sure you have enough money to pay your rent. Then, you can go shopping if you have anything left over.
  • We are going to do our best to be 1st this year in the annual go-cart race.
  • The team is in 1st place, but if they do not hustle for the entire season, they will not make it into the playoffs.
  • If you are first off the line, you could win.
  • The 1st place team wins a prize package worth more than $100,000.
  • After you call the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, please send an email to the other entrants letting them know they were not winners this year.
  • If you cross the finish line before the 2nd and 3rd place contestants, you will be 1st and win the competition.

Other Ordinals

  • We can't come in 5th place again this year.
  • I was the fourth sibling in a family of eight kids.
  • There were 58 cars in the last race, and the driver came in 14th place. Most people would not think that was a great ranking, but considering it was his 1st race, he did remarkably well.
  • He was the 34th person to walk through the doors of the new stadium.

Recap: Is '1st' or '1th' Correct?

You should be an expert on this topic now. But here is a recap of what you learned about whether '1st' or '1th' is correct: 

  • '1st' is the correct numeric abbreviation of first. 
  • '1th' is a grammatical error, and you should never use it. 

Remembering how to correctly write ordinals can be challenging, especially if you are learning English as a second language. So, you can always return to this post if you need to review this lesson.

You can also learn about many other terms that confuse English speakers in the confusing words section here.

Each guide contains a short and detailed explanation of the correct term to use or the difference between the terms the post covers. Plus, they all include definitions, usage tips, pronunciations, and examples to help you gain a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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