Here’s some advice for professionals who want to improve their writing: Drop the word respective from your vocabulary. It’s a meaningless word, and all it does is clog a perfectly good sentence.
Yesterday I came across an annoying example in an Associated Press article. Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson has decided not to fire one of the officers involved in the Laquan McDonald case. Johnson stated there was “insufficient evidence to prove those respective allegations.”
Does the word “respective” tell you anything useful? No.
Sometimes writers use “respective” because they’re hoping to sound serious. It doesn’t work! You just end up sounding old-fashioned and pompous.
(I will concede that respectively can serve a purpose as a sorting word: “John and Jane work at IBM and GE respectively.” But I would just put it like this: “John works at IBM, and Jane works at GE.”)
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Criminal Justice Report Writing by Jean Reynolds
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