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    #1

    the position of "respectively" and

    Dear teachers,

    Please help me with this language issue. If I want to add "respectively" to the sentence of "They have two children aged six and nine", then will all the following versions be right?

    1. They have two children aged six and nine respectively.

    2. They have two children respectively aged six and nine.

    3. They have two children aged respectively six and nine.

    The original sentence of "They have two children aged six and nine" is taken from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. And in this dictionary at the entry of "respectively" there is an example going "Julie and Mark, aged 17 and 19 respectively". So, I think Version 1 is correct. But I am not sure of Versions 2 and 3. Are they both also correct? I consulted my Collins COBUILD English Usage Dictionary but got nothing useful in this regard.

    Besides, if I add another two words "who are" to the original sentence and say "They have two children who are aged six and nine respectively", does this new version sound natural to your native ear? Do you native speakers of English think this addition of "who are" is totally unnecessary in this situation?

    Please help me with this language issue. Thanks.

  1. teechar's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: the position of "respectively" and

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Dear teachers,

    Please help me with this language issue. If I want to add "respectively" to the sentence of "They have two children aged six and nine", then will all the following versions be right?

    1. They have two children aged six and nine respectively.

    2. They have two children respectively aged six and nine.

    3. They have two children aged respectively six and nine.

    The original sentence of "They have two children aged six and nine" is taken from Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. And in this dictionary at the entry of "respectively" there is an example going "Julie and Mark, aged 17 and 19 respectively". So, I think Version 1 is correct. But I am not sure of Versions 2 and 3. Are they both also correct? I consulted my Collins COBUILD English Usage Dictionary but got nothing useful in this regard.
    The adverb "respectively" means "in the order already mentioned" and is used to avoid potential confusion.
    In your example "They have two children", there is no order already mentioned, so "respectively" wouldn't work in any of your sentences.

    In the Oxford Dictionary sentence you referred to, "respectively" clarifies the meaning. Julie is 17 and Mark is 19 because Julie is mentioned first and Mark is mentioned second (17 is mentioned first and 19 is mentioned second).


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    #3

    Re: the position of "respectively" and

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    The adverb "respectively" means "in the order already mentioned" and is used to avoid potential confusion.
    In your example "They have two children", there is no order already mentioned, so "respectively" wouldn't work in any of your sentences.

    In the Oxford Dictionary sentence you referred to, "respectively" clarifies the meaning. Julie is 17 and Mark is 19 because Julie is mentioned first and Mark is mentioned second (17 is mentioned first and 19 is mentioned second).

    Thanks a lot, teechar.

    Sorry, I haven't thought deeply enough to figure out the reason why the sentence of "They have two children aged six and nine" hasn't used "respectively" and why "Julie and Mark, aged 17 and 19 respectively" need "respectively" to avoid potential confusion.

    Then, would you please tell me whether both of the following variations of "
    Julie and Mark are aged 17 and 19 respectively" are right or neither of them is acceptable? Or if one of them is correct, which one is correct then?

    1.
    Julie and Mark are respectively aged 17 and 19.

    2. Julie and Mark are aged respectively 17 and 19.

    Looking forward to your further reply. Thanks.

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    #4

    Re: the position of "respectively" and

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Thanks a lot, teechar.

    Sorry, I haven't thought deeply enough to figure out the reason why the sentence of "They have two children aged six and nine" hasn't used "respectively" and why "Julie and Mark, aged 17 and 19 respectively" need "respectively" to avoid potential confusion.

    Then, would you please tell me whether both of the following variations of "
    Julie and Mark are aged 17 and 19 respectively" are right or neither of them is acceptable? Or if one of them is correct, which one is correct then?

    1.
    Julie and Mark are respectively aged 17 and 19.

    2. Julie and Mark are aged respectively 17 and 19.

    Looking forward to your further reply. Thanks.
    1 is OK, but 2 is not standard.

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    #5

    Re: the position of "respectively" and

    I find neither of them standard. In BrE, at least, "respectively" would come after the age.

    Julie and Mark are aged 17 and 19 respectively.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. teechar's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: the position of "respectively" and

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I find neither of them standard. In BrE, at least, "respectively" would come after the age.

    Julie and Mark are aged 17 and 19 respectively.
    Personally, I would agree with you emsr2d2. However, have a look at the middle example sentence here, which has "respectively" in the middle of the sentence (for no good reason in my opinion).

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/de...h/respectively

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    #7

    Re: the position of "respectively" and

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    Personally, I would agree with you emsr2d2. However, have a look at the middle example sentence here, which has "respectively" in the middle of the sentence (for no good reason in my opinion).

    http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/de...h/respectively
    Thank you, teechar. I have looked at the sentence of "These positions are frequently referred to respectively as objectivism and constructionism" and I agree with you that it seems we can say "Julie and Mark are respectively aged 17 and 19." By the way, what did you mean by "OK" when you were judging "Julie and Mark are respectively aged 17 and 19."? Did you mean that you find this version of the sentence simply acceptable but that you native speakers actually seldom use them and you almost always say "Julie and Mark are aged 17 and 19 respectively"?

    The following follow-up question, which may seem to be weird to you, has never deserted me ever since I read your first response post: Is it really the case that you native speakers of English never say sentences like "They have two children respectively aged six and nine" or "They have two children aged six and nine respectively"? Could it be that you natives sometimes say them although you know "respectively" in them is unnecessary? In my native language many such unnecessary words are used in either written or spoken sentences. For example, when we express the same idea of "They have two children aged six and nine" in Chinese, we tend to add the Chinese word for "respectively"; otherwise, it sounds unnatural to our Chinese ears. That said, your native language and mine may not be compared with each other in this respect, but I am just curious about whether you really never never say things like "They have two children respectively aged six and nine" or "They have two children aged six and nine respectively" or whether you do use them sometimes or occasionally. You know many times we cannot equate language with logic.

    Please reflect hard on your daily use of English. Looking forward to your further reply. Thanks a lot.
    Last edited by ohmyrichard; 16-May-2015 at 20:22.

  5. teechar's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: the position of "respectively" and

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    Thank you, teechar. I have looked at the sentence of "These positions are frequently referred to respectively as objectivism and constructionism" and I agree with you that it seems we can say "Julie and Mark are respectively aged 17 and 19." By the way, what do you mean by "OK" when you were judging "Julie and Mark are respectively aged 17 and 19."? Do you mean that you find this version of the sentence simply acceptable
    Yes, but as I've indicated above, the more natural construction in that sentence would be to have "respectively" at the end.

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    In my native language many such unnecessary words are used in either written or spoken sentences. For example, when we express the same idea of "They have two children aged six and nine" in Chinese, we tend to add the Chinese word for "respectively"; otherwise, it sounds unnatural to our Chinese ears.
    That's not the case in English. Again, as I said above, use "respectively" only where necessary.

    Please also note that in some sentences, "respectively" wouldn't work at the end of the sentence, especially if the sentence was made up of more than one clause!

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    #9

    Re: the position of "respectively" and

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post

    Please also note that in some sentences, "respectively" wouldn't work at the end of the sentence, especially if the sentence was made up of more than one clause!
    Thanks, Teechar.

    Would you give me an example sentence that has more than one clause and at the end of which "respectively" does not work? Thanks.

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    #10

    Re: the position of "respectively" and

    I want to add my voice to the idea that
    1) There is no point in saying "She has two children in middle school and high school respectively" because you haven't identified the two individually. You could say "She has a daughter and a son, in middle school and high school respectively" to mean the daughter is in middle school and the son is in high school. I would find it odd to read the first sentence.

    2) While it might be "grammatically legal" to put "respectively" in other places, the natural and expected place is at the end. Since one of my tenets of communication is to avoid drawing attention to HOW you give your information so people can focus on the WHAT you are saying, I suggest you avoid using an unusual word order, which draws attention away from your meaning.
    Last edited by Barb_D; 17-May-2015 at 06:28. Reason: Fixed humorous auto"corrected" typo
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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