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Similar Sounding Confused Words: Respectable, Respectful and Respective

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The words Respectable, Respectful and Respective are all adjectives and all have the word 'respect' in them. Hence, there is invariably confusion about using them in everyday English.

1. Respectable is an adjective with two sets of meanings:
1. highly regarded; reputable; upright. Antonym: disreputable.
2. adequate; reasonable; acceptable. Antonym: inadequate.

2. Respectful is an adjective with two sets of meanings:
1. deferential; reverential. Antonym: disrespectful.
2. polite; civil; courteous; considerate. Antonym: impolite.

3. Respective is an adjective.
Meanings: own; individual; personal; particular; relevant.

Sample Usage

Examples of Respectable
1. (i) The grocery store owner was a respectable person in the community and was persuaded to stand for elections to the mayor's post.
(ii) There are very few politicians who are genuinely respectable; most of them have some kind of criminal background or are very corrupt.

2. (i) It is perfectly respectable to get above 80% in an examination, but due to the intense competitive levels of the education system it is not a high enough grade to get admissions to reputed institutes.

(ii) Sharmila's father refused to accept the fact that she had got respectable marks in the light of the fact that she was not really a brilliant student; he had expected her to do better.

Examples of Respectful
1. (i) “Yours respectfully" is a common way to end a letter addressed to a senior person.
(ii) The devotee respectfully bowed his head in front of the priest.

2. (i) The superstar, despite his celebrity status, was always respectful to all.

(ii) It is good manners to be respectful to others, whether the person is a teacher, a peon, or a waiter.

Examples of Respective
1. The troop leader gave specific tasks to the respective groups during their camping expedition.

2. Kartik and Sushil were given member of the week and member of the month awards respectively.

3. The soccer jerseys with names and numbers were handed out to the respective players.

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