Skip to Content

How to Use “respectively” in a Sentence — Here You Go!

How to Use “respectively” in a Sentence — Here You Go!

What do you do when you need to illustrate a relationship between two or more people and two or more other people? How do you do it in a way that is clear and doesn’t use a lot of words?

“Respectively” is a word that will allow you to achieve both goals.

It can be used not only when dealing with people but also with animals, objects, or natural events. It works with just about any person, place, or thing you can imagine.

 

How is “respectively” used in a sentence?

Use “respectively” to show the relationship between two or more sets of things. Those sets of things relate to each other in a parallel or sequential way.  “Respectively” can also mean “in the order provided.”

 

What part of speech is “respectively”?

The word is an adverb, which describes how, when, where, or to what degree something happens.

“Respectively” can appear anywhere in a sentence, including at the very beginning or the very end.

 

What are some examples of using “respectively” correctly in a sentence?

“Respectively” can mean applying to or referring to two or more people, places, or things. Those things relate to two or more other people, places, or things in a parallel way. 

Diane and Eddie accused Marylyn and Greg, respectively.

Stating it differently, Diane accused Marylyn, and Eddie accused Greg.

Jerome: Have you assigned any of the tasks?

Wendy: I assigned the research and the presentation to Jim and Tory, respectively.

Putting it another way, the research task was assigned to Jim, and the presentation task was assigned to Tory.

In the example above, the word “respectively” could be moved to a different place in the sentence. This wouldn’t change the meaning of the sentence.

However, it may change how smoothly the sentence reads.

Wendy: I assigned the research and the presentation, respectively, to Jim and Tory.

Wendy: Respectively, I assigned the research and the presentation to Jim and Tory.

Use “respectively” to mean “applying in the order provided.”

Nancy and Edward are respectively six and eight years old.

In other words, Nancy is six years old, and Edward is eight years old.

 

What are “respectively” synonyms?

 

Separately

You can substitute this word for “respectively.” It shows that events will occur between two specific pairs of individuals.

In addition, each event will occur independently of the other event.  

Christine explained, “Richard and I will meet with Jackson and Molly separately to discuss the plan.”

The intended meaning is that Richard will meet with Jackson, and Christine will meet with Molly. In addition, both meetings will occur independently of each other.

Unfortunately, “separately” may not be a good replacement for “respectively” in some situations.

Using the word “separately” in the example above leaves some room for other interpretations.

Will both Christine and Richard meet with Jackson at the same time? Will both Christine and Richard then meet with Molly at another time?

Will Christine and Richard each meet with Jackson independently and then each meet with Molly independently?

The word “respectively” eliminates the possibility of misinterpreting the meaning of the sentence.

The meaning is that Richard will meet with Jackson, and Christine will meet with Molly.

Further, the two meetings will be separate from one another.

 

Individually

This word can take the place of “respectively.” Use it in a sentence to emphasize that a person, place, or thing is acting independently of other people, places, or things. 

Reggie said, “Chad and I will be choosing the team leaders and the project managers individually.”

The intended meaning is that Chad will choose the team leaders, and Reggie will choose the project managers. Further, each man will make his choices independently of the other man.

Unfortunately, “individually” may not be a desirable substitute for “respectively” in every case.

Using the word “individually” in the example above opens up the possibility of interpreting the statement other ways.

Will both Reggie and Chad choose the team leaders and the project managers? Furthermore, will each man compile his own list of team leaders and his own list of project managers? 

Will both Reggie and Chad choose the team leaders and the project managers one by one rather than choosing them in groups?

Using “respectively” avoids the chance of misunderstanding the intent of the sentence. The intent is that Chad will choose the team leaders, and Reggie will choose the project managers. 

 

FAQ’s about “respectively”

 

“Respective” is similar to “respectively.” Does it mean the same thing?

“Respective” is an adjective, and it means “particular” or “separate.” Josh and Tina returned to their respective rooms in the hotel.

 

“Respectively” sounds similar to “respectfully.” Does it mean the same thing?

No. “Respectfully” means “to do something with respect or deference.” I always speak to my grandparents respectfully.

 

Is “irrespective of” a synonym for “respectively”?

No. “Irrespective of” is a preposition. It means “regardless of.” Nina was determined to ask the tough questions, irrespective of the consequences.

 

What is an example of a sentence where “respectively” can be either the first word or the last word? Does moving the word change the meaning of the sentence?

Here is such an example. Moving the word does not change the meaning of the sentence. “Respectively, I tasted MaryLou’s and Yvonne’s appetizer and dessert.” “I tasted MaryLou’s and Yvonne’s appetizer and dessert, respectively.”