Make Your Editor Cry: First-come first-serve vs. First come first served

Make Your Editor Cry: First-come first-serve vs. First come first served

Without the d, the phrase “first-come first-serve” suggests that the first individual who arrives will be the one who will then serve everyone who follows, which is not the idiom’s intent. The intent is that the first person who arrives will be the first person who is served, not who does the serving.

The correct phrase is to “first-come first-served” with the d.

Correct:

Seats are assigned at check-in on a first-come first-served basis.

Incorrect:

Tickets will be issued on a first-come first-serve basis.

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