Submitted by lainiewhitney on July 25, 2011

Comma before “respectively”?

When using the word respectively after listing items and corresponding relations do you use a comma before it? Example: The corresponding sewer projections for the monthly and yearly flows are 18 and 200, respectively.

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One use of the comma in English is to indicate a slight pause; so there is a difference between "Roses are red and violets are blue" and "Roses are red, and violets are blue" - the latter has a slight pause before "and".
In the same way I would suggest the comma before "respectively" marks a slight pause.
One can in fact say it either way.
The only corollary to this is that in recent years commas have been dying out - I use them only where necessary these days to make the meaning clear or to clearly indicate a slight pause.

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No no no!

The best way to convey this is as follows:
Sewer projection flow monthly: 18
Sewer projection flow yearly: 200

Respectfully,
GKB

Simples!

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Basically trolling means diverting people's attention form the matter at hand to end up in an absurd discussion about trolling or sometimes about trawling!

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I stand corrected! I have never heard of trolling as a fishing term and I've worked with fishermen!

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porsche et al are of course right about trolling being a type of fishing (although I confess I had to check a dictionary, as this seems to be more of a North American usage). Hence the meaning of to search for something - "politicians trolling for votes", as well as the newer meaning that KWM explained (also given at Oxford Online).

Incidentally, there is another British meaning of "troll" as a verb- "walk, stroll", probably from Polari, a kind of cant slang, some of whose word were made famous by Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick on "Round the Horne". "Look who's trolling in!"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polari

Google site searches of both American and British newspapers would suggest that use of comma or no comma before "respectively" is fairly evenly divided.

One editing blog suggests it's context specific - "If the sentence is long and has many parameters, then use the comma for clarity. If not, the comma may be omitted". And he adds there is no difference between AmE and BrE here. Seems a sensible approach to me.

http://blog.editage.com/taxonomy/term/350#.UXWZ...

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Sorry Bolle, but you are completely incorrect. "Trawling" is fishing by dragging a net along the sea bottom. "Trolling" is fishing by moving or dragging a fishing line with hook and/or bait.

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KWM are you serious? The fishing term is TRAWLING. Trolls were mythical norse beings that were wicked and mischievous. I do hope you're being ironic.

Respectively is required to show monthly is 18 and yearly is 200. Informally you can do without it but when comparing figures I think it should be included. Anwulf was correct, only use a comma if your sentence is getting unwieldy and it's required for clarity.

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"Troll" refers to "trolling" a method of fishing where a lure is dragged behind a boat moving thru the water to entice the fish to bite. An Internet "troll" is someone who tosses out comments with the intention of getting people to "bite" - That is saying things you don't mean just to see who will argue with you. It does (and never has) referred to a monster that lives under a bridge. There is no context of it's usage that would support that.

@Brock - I think you are trolling, which refers solely to your actions, and not your (supposed) physical appearance.

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What on earth are you on about, Brock? Unless you're joking and I missed the humour. haha. There is no list there...

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I was going to suggest to GWU that "respectively" is not superfluous in this case, but the earlier "corresponding" does make "respectively" a bit redundant. I would delete one or the other. It reminds me of sentences like "Also, I like pizza, as well"

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Commas are used to sort of rope off dependent clauses that, although they add to the sentence, aren't imperative to the sentence. You can remove any phrase in a sentence that is corded off by commas and the sentence should still be complete and readable. Yes, I know there are a few other ways to use commas, don't get me wrong.

When you add the comma in front of "respectively," it makes sense because the sentence can stand alone without the addition of that word.

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GWU: correct.

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Do you really need "respectively"? It doesn't say anything that isn't already said; it's superfluous; the order is already mentioned. Delete it. Use "respectively" when it truly matters:

The corresponding sewer projections for the monthly and yearly flows are 18 and 200; they were 15 and 139, respectively, under previous projections.

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koam: assertions
sigurd: supported assertions

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essential: nonsense
comma: optional

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In this case, ‘respectively’ is essential (no comma) as it denotes ‘in the order already mentioned’, with 18 being the monthly sewer projection and 200 being the yearly counterpart. Without ‘respectively’, it would be unclear which projection each figure refers to or if the monthly and yearly projections both are 18 and 200.

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/respec...

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@Brock ... How would you even write that with a semicolon? No semicolon, colon, or comma needed in this example.

The only thing missing hasn't anything to do with layout of the sentence but some units would be nice ... 18 gal? 200 L?

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Completely serious, koam. Was there something I missed. I always was taught that semicolons are used in lists. That's what I was trying to say.

I do have some problems with my brain and face because of birth defects, andd so I don't apreciate the "troll" comment.

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Troll or joking?

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I can't believe that everyone is missing the point on this one. The comma should be a semi-colon as the separation is being used for a list. The other basic reason that a semicolon is needed is that it is a longer break and gives the reader a chance to process the info given and then to anticipate the complicated relationship implied by the term "respectively".

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IMO "respectively" is not essential, but is used as a formality.

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I think the example is incorrect. The word ‘respectively’ is essential to the sentence’s meaning and shouldn’t be separated by a comma.

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In the example you gave, it is not needed. Only use a comma if it provides clarity. The sentence is perfectly clear without the comma.

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That's right.

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