# How to use "respectively" for 2x2 combinations?

I would like Anton and Betty to meet with Charly and David, respectively.

My understanding of this sentence is that Anton is supposed to meet Charly, and Betty shall meet David. What should I write if I want to schedule four meetings between the participants, such that each of Anton and Betty meets each of Charly and David?

I would like Anton and Betty, respectively, to meet with Charly and David, respectively?

"Respectively" doesn't work in this case. It is strictly limited to aligning one list with another. You can use each to pry apart the and conjunction, like this:

I would like Anton and Betty to each meet with Charly and David.

You may wish to also pry apart the second and conjunction like this:

I would like Anton and Betty to each meet separately with Charly and David.

These sentences sound like suggestions. Direct speech gets more action, and allows you to clarify more easily by repeating the prepositional phrase.

Anton and Betty, I would like each of you to meet with Charly, and with David.

• "I would like Anton and Betty to each meet separately with Charly and David." still sounds like Anton meeting with Charly & David (together), then Betty meeting with Charly & David (together). I don't think there's a non-clunky way to express this. Mar 6, 2018 at 12:32
• @MaxWilliams What about "I would like Anton and Betty to each meet separately with Charly and with David"?
– bers
Mar 6, 2018 at 18:46
• Still liable to be misinterpreted, I think Mar 7, 2018 at 1:04

I think we do not use "respectively" for this. I can imagine saying it like this:

There will be four meetings. Anton, Betty, Anton, Betty will meet Charly, David, David, Charly, respectively.

But that seems worse that what you said:

There will be four meetings such that each of Anton and Betty will meet each of Charly and David.

Let's take a step back for a minute. You have four people. There are 6 possible ways for four people to meet one on one. So there are 6 possibilities for one meeting, 15 possible combinations for two meetings, 20 for three meetings, another 15 for four meetings, 6 for five meetings, and 1 for six meetings. Total of 63 if I'm counting correctly. You want to know if we have a grammar and syntax for all 63 possible ways this could pan out, and specifically what the grammar and syntax is for your particular combination.

Okay, no, we don't have that.

We have respectively, which groups the nth members of ordered lists together.

We have each, which lets us pair a single item with all the members of a list or group in turn.

And we have both, which can do some funny distributive jobs when dealing with pairs of things.

If my feet were held to the fire and I was forced to produce something, I'd go with "I would like Anton and Betty each to meet Charly, and each to meet David, one on one." (And then I'd wait for the questions to begin.)