1

Here are several possible sentences I currently can figure out.

  1. Select an apple for Mary and John respectively.
  2. Select two apples for Mary and John respectively.
  3. Select each apple for Mary and John.
  4. Select an apple for each Mary and John.

For 1, it sounds correct. But as we overall have to select two apples so I have some questions when I see "an apple" in the sentence.

For 2, it is just a counterpart of 1.

For 3, it sounds weird and should be wrong.

For 4, we usually say "for each people". I don't know if this construction is right and if this sentence conveys my meaning.

Follow-up question

According to @Steve Ives,

Select an apple and a pear for Mary and John respectively.

which means select an apple for Mary and a pear for John.

The above interpretation should be correct. I often construct sentence in this way. If this is correct, then one could infer the following sentence can convey the meaning; although it is odd.

Select an apple and an apple for Mary and John respectively.

which should be equivalent to,

Select two apples for Mary and John respectively.

This contradicts to what @user3169 said. So which one is correct? I am confused.

3
  • Select an apple for both Mary and John. The both signals you are talking about one apple for each of them, as opposed to not saying both, which most often means one apple total. Jun 14 '16 at 3:34
  • @AlanCarmack - I dunno, that still sounds pretty ambiguous to me. An apple for both of them? Sounds like one for the two of them. An apple for each sounds a little clearer to me.
    – stangdon
    Jun 14 '16 at 12:30
  • I like something plain, "Choose (or pick or maybe select) one apple for Many, and one (or another) for John." Jun 14 '16 at 21:12
4

We say things like:

Give Mary and John an apple each.

Give Mary and John one apple each.

Give Mary and John each an apple.

Give one apple each to Mary and John.

Give Mary and John one apple apiece.

Give one apple apiece to Mary and John.

Things get a little dicier with "pick" and "choose"

Choose one apple each for Mary and John.

Pick Mary and John an apple for each of them.

2
  • 1
    I agree that things get trickier with "pick". How about this: Pick one apple for Mary and another for John.
    – J.R.
    Jun 14 '16 at 21:28
  • 1
    @J.R Sure. or "... and one for John too, while you're at it." Jun 15 '16 at 9:57
3

respectively denotes first Mary and then John. So even if you say:

1) Select an apple for Mary and John respectively.

it would be understood as two actions (first select an apple for Mary and then select an apple for John).

2) Select two apples for Mary and John respectively.

is ambiguous at best. I think literally it would require 4 apples, but with some imagination maybe 2 would work out.

3) Select each apple for Mary and John.

means any apple would go to both of them. They would need to share.

4) Select an apple for each of Mary and John.

here of is needed to be grammatically correct, but I doubt anyone would say this. Using respectively as in 1) is much better. You could use it in this way though:

Select an apple for each of the children, Mary and John.

Take a look at Each and each of.

1
  • please see my follow-up question. What do you think? Jun 15 '16 at 15:57
1

I'm in favor of:

Select Mary and John one apple each.

This is actually grammatically fine, and probably the most natural construction of the idea.

3
  • Select "for." As it stands, it is not grammatically fine.
    – mkennedy
    Jun 14 '16 at 19:51
  • It's fine. "Mary and John" exists as an indirect object, which is very common in imperative sentences: "Give me the book."
    – Epicedion
    Jun 14 '16 at 20:09
  • Eh, okay, I see it. The OP's examples were not so strongly worded and that threw me off. Thank you for the correction.
    – mkennedy
    Jun 14 '16 at 20:11
0
  1. Select an apple for Mary and John respectively.

Respectively is used to associate the items in one list with those in another list i.e. :

Select an apple and a pear for Mary and John respectively.

which means select an apple for Mary and a pear for John.

  1. Select two apples for Mary and John respectively.

See above.

  1. Select each apple for Mary and John.
  2. Select an apple for each Mary and John

These are just incorrect. Select is a bit formal too. A native English speaker would most likely say:

Choose an apple for Mary and John

it's understood that it's one each, or to be more explicit:

Choose Mary and John an apple each.

7
  • Why is 'select each apple for' wrong? Select each apple for Mary and John with care. They are very picky people. 'Select each apple for Mary and John.' sounds weird to me too when taken out of context, but I'm not convinced it's incorrect. It could also be "Get the all of the different apples from the warehouse. Select each apple for Mary and John. Then select each apple for Marjorie and Joe."
    – ColleenV
    Jun 14 '16 at 18:10
  • "select each..." implies that every apple is being selected.
    – Steve Ives
    Jun 14 '16 at 19:51
  • Could you clarify for the original poster whether you think that your first sentence (Select an apple for Mary and John respectively.) is correct? I don't think it is, since you don't have two lists, but perhaps you disagree. Also: after #2., you say "see above". Do you mean the reader to see your comment after #1 or the comment addressing the apple & pear scenario?
    – Adam
    Jun 14 '16 at 21:33
  • So every apple in the world is selected? Or every apple that is intended for Mary and John is selected? You're saying that Select each apple for Mary and John with care. is ungrammatical? If it isn't why does adding "with care" fix everything? If it is ungrammatical, why do so many companies insist that they "select each item with care"? I really think your answer could use more explanation than "it's incorrect", because the pattern appears a lot of other places and if some usages are correct and others are not, it would help to explain why.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 14 '16 at 22:07
  • 1
    So it's not ungrammatical. It's a matter of semantics. I know I'm being a bit annoying here, but do you see how "that's incorrect" might not be all that helpful to someone who isn't fluent? I think if you incorporated what you've said in your comment into your answer it would improve it quite a bit.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 15 '16 at 0:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .