Severally vs several times: connected but different

The error of using ‘severally’ and ‘several times’ as synonyms is not restricted to any part of the world, though uncontrolled in some than others. Another strange perception is that ‘severally’ is not a word, but it is—actually.  ‘Severally’ and ‘several times’ do not have the same meaning, but they’re connected in a way.

Here is how and why:

Severally

This is an adverb that means ‘separately, rather than as part of a group’, ‘individually’, ‘singly’ or ‘each in turn’. It’s often used in formal language and legal vocabulary to show that one is independent of others.

Examples:

  1. None of them was forced, they agreed severally.
  2. The partners didn’t have a problem with being severally responsible for the company.
  3. We signed the document after concluding that we are jointly and severally liable.

Several times

It is just the combination of the pronoun ‘several’ and plural noun ‘times’ to show frequency (just like ‘several places’, ‘several points’, etc.) and it’s the same as ‘sometimes’ or ‘more than two times but not many’. Though ‘several times’ is indefinite, it doesn’t mean ‘many times’, it’s fewer than many.

Examples:

  1. He called several times to ask after his daughter.
  2. Politicians usually repeat the same thing several times.
  3. Bukola Bridget Anjorin has helped us on several occasions.

Connection

Both ‘severally’ and ‘several times’ are derived from ‘several’, which is both a pronoun (and determiner) and an adjective. ‘Severally’ is derived from the adjective form, while ‘several times’ is from the pronoun form. Confused? This is the explanation:

* ‘Several’ as a pronoun and determiner means ‘some’, ‘fewer than many’, ‘more than two but not many’. Examples: ‘several people’, ‘several occasions’, ‘several times’.

* ‘Several’ as an adjective means ‘separate’, ‘different’, ‘respective’, ‘distinct’. It shows that the things mentioned are independent of one another. Here, the connection with ‘severally’ is evident. Examples: ‘several responsibilities’, ‘several opinions’, etc.

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