How to Use the Word ‘Respectively’ in English: A Guide

Using the word ‘respectively’ correctly can sometimes feel like a grammar minefield. But fear not! With a few simple pointers, you’ll be using this handy word like a pro in no time. Essentially, ‘respectively’ is used to link two lists of items to show which items from the first list correspond to which items in the second list. Sounds easy, right? Let’s dive in and get you using ‘respectively’ with confidence.

How to Use ‘Respectively’

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s understand what we’re trying to achieve here. ‘Respectively’ is a word that helps us avoid repeating ourselves when we’re talking about two related lists. It’s all about pairing things up neatly, and by the end of this tutorial, you’ll be able to do just that.

Step 1: Identify two related lists

Identify the two lists of items or groups of words that you want to relate to each other with ‘respectively.’
When you have two sets of items that correspond to each other, you can use ‘respectively’ to make that clear. For example, if you’re talking about the favorite fruits of two friends, Amy and John, and you know Amy likes apples while John prefers bananas, you have two related lists: the friends and their favorite fruits.

Step 2: Place ‘respectively’ at the end of the sentence

Once you have your two lists, structure your sentence so that ‘respectively’ comes at the end.
Make sure that the items in the first list are in the same order as the items they correspond to in the second list. So, using our example, you’d say, "Amy and John like apples and bananas, respectively." This tells the reader that Amy likes apples and John likes bananas, without having to repeat the names.

After you’ve completed the steps, you’ll have a sentence that clearly shows which items from the first list correspond to which items from the second list. By using ‘respectively,’ you’ve avoided repetition and made your writing more concise and easier to understand.

Tips for Using ‘Respectively’

  • Always use ‘respectively’ when you have two lists that correspond to each other in the same order.
  • Remember that ‘respectively’ comes at the end of the sentence.
  • Don’t use ‘respectively’ if your sentence only involves one list or if the order of items doesn’t matter.
  • Be careful not to confuse ‘respectively’ with ‘respectfully,’ which is a sign-off used in formal correspondence.
  • If you’re unsure, read the sentence out loud to see if it makes sense with ‘respectively’ at the end.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can ‘respectively’ be used in the middle of a sentence?

No, ‘respectively’ should always be placed at the end of a sentence to avoid confusion.

Do the lists have to be in the same order to use ‘respectively’?

Yes, the items in the first list must correspond directly to the items in the second list in the same order.

Can ‘respectively’ be used with more than two items in each list?

Absolutely! ‘Respectively’ can relate any number of items in two lists, as long as the order is consistent.

Is ‘respectively’ a formal word?

‘Respectively’ is not overly formal, but it’s most commonly used in written English rather than spoken English.

Can I use ‘respectively’ if I’m only talking about one person?

No, ‘respectively’ is used to relate items in two different groups or lists. If you’re only talking about one person, you don’t need ‘respectively.’


  1. Identify two related lists.
  2. Place ‘respectively’ at the end of the sentence.


Mastering the use of ‘respectively’ really boils down to understanding the relationship between two sets of information. It’s like a linguistic shortcut that helps you avoid being repetitive and keeps your sentences crisp and clear. With practice, you’ll find that ‘respectively’ is a versatile tool that can make your writing more efficient. Remember to keep your lists in order and to place ‘respectively’ at the end of your sentence, and you’ll be all set. Now that you know how to use ‘respectively,’ go ahead and give it a try in your next writing project. Your readers will thank you for making things clear and concise!

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