Today, we\u2019re looking at a term used to refer to something previously mentioned: \u2018respectively\u2019. This is a useful word when used correctly, but it\u2019s also easy to misuse if you\u2019re not sure how it works. Let us look first at how this word should be used, then, before looking at a couple of common errors.\nHow to Use Respectively in a Sentence\n\u2018Respectively\u2019 is an adverb that means \u2018in the order mentioned\u2019. We use it when we want to emphasise the relationships between two pairs or the items in two parallel lists (i.e. two lists that contain the same number of items). For example, we could use \u2018respectively\u2019 as follows:\nParis and Berlin are the capital cities of France and Germany, respectively. \u2713\nThis sentence tells us that Paris is the capital of France and that Berlin is the capital of Germany. We know this because \u2018respectively\u2019 means that the first city mentioned (Paris) goes with the first country mentioned (France), and likewise for the second city (Berlin) and country (Germany).\nCommon Error: Non-Parallel Lists\nThere are two common errors made when using \u2018respectively\u2019. One is to use \u2018respectively\u2019 without preceding parallel structures, or without a direct one-to-one relationship between items:\nThe wires connect to the diode and fuse, respectively. \u2717\nHere, for example, \u2018respectively\u2019 does not make sense because we don\u2019t know how many wires there are or how they are distinct from one another. To correct this, we would need to write:\nThe orange wire and green wire connect to the diode and fuse, respectively. \u2713\nIn this version, we can clearly see which wire connects to which component.\nCommon Error: Unnecessary Use of Respectively\nAnother error is to use \u2018respectively\u2019 when it is not necessary. For instance:\nDogs and cats are common household pets, respectively. \u2717\nIn this case, since both dogs and cats are pets, we can lose \u2018respectively\u2019:\nDogs and cats are common household pets. \u2713\nWe would, however, use \u2018respectively\u2019 if we were distinguishing between the two somehow. For example, to clarify the genus of each species:\nDogs and cats belong, respectively, to the genera Canis and Felis. \u2713\nHere, without the \u2018respectively\u2019, it would not be 100% clear which species belonged to which genus. This is, therefore, a good use of the term.