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What’s the Difference Between “Respectively” and “Respectfully”?

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These two words both have the “respect” at their core, but mean different things. We’ll explore their differences and show you how to use these words correctly.

Respectively vs Respectfully. Definition, explanation, and examples.
Do you know what “respectively” and “respectfully” mean?
Is It “Respectively” or “Respectfully”?

Respectively means “in the same order already mentioned.” Respectfully means “in a way that expresses respect or high regard.”

  • Michael and Geoffrey are brothers. They are 13 and 15, respectively.
  • He behaved respectfully when his grandparents were around.

Respectfully, the English language makes absolutely zero sense.

Just kidding.

But it can be confusing to make out what two words mean when they have the same root. In this case, the words in question are respectively and respectfully.

Let’s go over their meanings.

Respective definition: Learn the difference between respectively or respectfully.
“Respect” can function as a noun or verb and has multiple definitions. 

What Does “Respectively” Mean?

Respectively is an adverb, which is a part of speech that modifies verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. It means “separate or individually, in the order already stated.”

Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds, 41 and 48 years old respectively, are famous American actors.

In the sentence above, respectively helps show that it is Ryan Gosling who is 41 years old and Ryan Reynolds who is 48.

Respectively helps keep sentences succinct. Without it, you’d have to write something like:

Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds are famous American actors. Ryan Gosling is 41 years old and Ryan Reynolds is 48.

You can also write:

Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds, 41 and 48 years old, are famous American actors.

But you risk leaving the reader questioning which one is 41 and which one is 48.

Respectively can be found in the middle of a sentence (with or without a comma) or at the end of a sentence (always with a comma preceding it).

Carlo and Luca, who play piano and violin respectively, both got scholarships to Julliard.
Mona and Ruth are respectively from France and Spain.
Jordan and Joshua play soccer and baseball, respectively.

What Does “Respectfully” Mean?

Respectfully is also an adverb, but it means “in a way that shows respect.” Respect is a noun that means “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something because of their good qualities or achievements.”

So, to behave respectfully means to behave in a way that conveys high regard or esteem.

They respectfully asked the media to be more accurate in their reporting about the situation.
She always listened respectfully to all my concerns.
The students learned to act respectfully when the principal was around.

Respectfully is often used to end formal letters (or emails). Be careful not to get confused with respectively.



Respectfully yours,

Respectively yours,

Respectfully Yours, LanguageTool

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