Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
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Proofreading Service - Pain in the English
Proofreading Service - Pain in the English

Your Pain Is Our Pleasure

24-Hour Proofreading Service—We proofread your Google Docs or Microsoft Word files. We hate grammatical errors with passion. Learn More

About "Respective"

Is it grammatically ok to use the adjective “respective” with a singular noun ?

Many dictionaries such as Longman define the term “respective” as follows.

used before a plural noun to refer to the different things that belong to each separate person or thing mentioned.

But, I often see “respective” used with a singular noun as follows (cited from an Internet site).

Each of the Division’s three regional offices - in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco - handles criminal matters arising in its respective area and serves as the Division’s liaison with U.S. attorneys, state attorneys general, and other regional law enforcement agencies.

I wonder if the above usage is now common, though it is gramatically incorrect.

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Comments

the 'respective' is redundant in 'its respective area'.

i would add a comma after 'area'; but i am not sure about 'serves' or 'serve'. hmm, i guess 'serves' to match the tense of 'handles' (but could be 'handle' and 'serve').

dec Mar-29-2020

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I agree with dec. The "respective" seems a bit redundant.

It's an interesting question, because the author here is obviously trying to comment on how "each" office operates in its own "area". In that sense, "respective" is helpful, because it singularly conveys how each individual office is responsible for its region.

One way or another, it's kind of a nice word to have to use in an instance like this!

the_poetye Aug-19-2020

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Yes the_poetye, I agree it is good usage. To the person posting this question I would argue that this paragraph you present is perfect. The use of the term respective here arises because of the interruption in the sentence where each office is identified. If those regional offices were not identified, then the paragraph could have simply said something like there are three regional offices and each is responsible for the following duties. When you introduce that sort of parenthetical you want to say respective because the term sort of implies looking back and in this case we are in fact looking back at the parenthetical remark.

In fact if we leave the word respective out of the paragraph we run the risk of someone imagining some possible overlap with the specific duties that are listed at the end of the paragraph.

kellyjohnj Oct-23-2020

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I hope you're not confusing respective with the similar word respectively. When we say respectively we are talking about associating a set of traits with a set of nouns. So I can say I gave two and $10 to Sally and Jesse respectively.

I was confused by your definition. It might help if you gave an example. I tried but couldn't really come up with one myself. I was trying to imagine plural and singular nouns but that really didn't help me.

kellyjohnj Oct-23-2020

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RachaelOsborne Jan-31-2021

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