The proper use of ‘respectively’

Respectively is often confused with respectfully, but they have different meanings. Respectfully is used to show or express respect. Respectively means in the order given and is usually used with parallel lists in scientific writing.

If a parallel list is present, meaning there is a relationship between two given lists in one sentence, then all item placements should correspond:

A, B, and C cost $A, $B, and $C, respectively.

It can be confusing to understand where to place punctuation around the word respectively. Is respectively placed in the middle of the sentence? Then surround it by commas. If it is at the end of a sentence, then place a comma before it.

Does your sentence consist of a parallel list?
Are all of the corresponding items correctly placed?
If so, you can use the word respectively.

Remember to ask yourself a few questions regarding where the word respectively is used in the sentence and if you have your items correctly ordered.

Does your sentence include a parallel list?
Are all of the corresponding items placed correctly?
The banana, notebook, and car cost $20,000.00, $0.20, and $2.50, respectively. (incorrect)
The banana, notebook, and car cost $0.20, $2.50, and $20,000.00, respectively. (correct)

Knowing that the word respectively is only used when talking about the order given will go a long way to ensure you are using it correctly. Remembering to keep the items you are listing in the correct order will make you look like a grammar pro!

This image was produced by Alan Levine and is used under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)