There are a tall tree and a short flower. Could I say “there are respectively a tall and a short tree and flower”

  • @Astralbee I mean, whether “respectively” is related to adjectives or nouns, so there’s a slight difference.
    – user139825
    Aug 19 at 21:15
  • The principle is the same.
    – Astralbee
    Aug 20 at 9:15

“Respectively” is an adverb meaning “in the order mentioned.” We use it when we want to emphasize the relationships between two pairs or items in two parallel lists (i.e., two lists that contain the same number of items).

Source: https://getproofed.com/writing-tips/use-respectively-sentence/

When building a sentence with respectively, it can be helpful to think of two or more parallel sentences, and then combine them.

The tree is tall.

The flower is short.

The tree and the flower are tall and short, respectively.

Alice ate two slices of pizza.

John ate five slices of pizza.

Alice and John ate two and five slices of pizza, respectively.

I was born in December.

My brother was born in June.

My sister was born in October.

My brother, my sister and I were born in June, October and December, respectively.

The trouble with your example phrase ("a tall and a short tree and flower") is that the parts are in the wrong order. To use "respectively" correctly, the elements in the second list should describe, modify, or give more information about the elements in the first list. You have put the list of adjectives before the list of nouns that the adjectives describe, which is backwards.

  • I turned it into the sentence.
    – user139825
    Aug 20 at 2:11
  • @user0203 Please do not change your original question in response to my answer. It is against site policy to change questions once asked, except to make them clearer. When the question is different, all the good answers become bad ones!
    – MJ713
    Aug 20 at 3:04
  • @user0203 I have edited my answer. The new answer should fit both the edited version of your question and the original version.
    – MJ713
    Aug 20 at 3:06

In academic writing, one would typically use "The tree and flower are respectively tall and short." or "The tree and flower are tall and short, respectively." (Source: internal style guide for journal groups such as Elsevier and Springer–Nature.)