How to Properly Use The Word “Namely” In A Sentence

how to use namely in a sentence

The use of “namely” in a sentence can be challenging. For one to use the term correctly, one should focus on the specific items. The term “namely” implies particularly or especially. 

The word is used to present a list, meaning that it highlights the most crucial aspect of a particular conversation. The items should be a stand out from others. Also, the items should be in small numbers, meaning you are not supposed to mention many things when you are using “namely.”

namely sign in blocks white background

For example:

  •   There are so many cells in a regulator, namely CDKs, checkpoint proteins, and iCKI.

The sentence means that there are many cell regulators, but the three are the most specific.

  •   The research has multiple limitations, namely the retrospective perspective and sample size.

The sentence implies that the research has a couple of limitations, but the two are the primary ones.  Also, “namely” can be used as an “i.e” substitute to redefine a term. For example:

  •   They say the black people’s genes are resistant to some diseases, i.e., malaria and typhoid (i.e., used)

They say the black people’s genes are resistant to some disease, namely malaria, and typhoid (namely substituting, i.e.)

“Namely” Definition

“Namely” can be defined as a term that introduces specific items in a sentence. In the speech or sentences, it emphasises specific subjects at the end of a sentence. In other words, it produces the central aspect in a sentence.


Consider the tone of the following sentences.

  •   Environmental science students cause lots of mayhem (No central aspect)
  •   Some student cause lots of mayhem, namely environment science students (namely introduces the main culprits)

Synonyms Of “Namely”

The synonyms of “namely” include:

  •   Particularly
  •   Specifically
  •   In other words
  •   That is
  •   Viz
  •   Videlicet
  •   Scilicet

How to Properly Use The Word “Namely” In A Sentence

In a sentence, “namely,” offers more details. The “namely” sentence begins with essential items or ideas, then “namely” is introduced to add a certain degree of specificity. Therefore, “namely” points to the primary or main subject in a sentence, and the sentence should mention a large group of items before narrowing down to some of them.  The word intends to single out one particular subset from a large pool of items.

Here are some examples:

  •   My cows are thinning at a rapid rate, namely the Frisians and Ayrshire (the sentence introduces a large pool of items that are cows, and then narrows down to Frisians and Ayrshire.)
  •   Jimmy will be sending people over to your place for counseling, namely Ann and Joash (people implies the large pool of items; Ann and Joash is the narrowing down)
  • Also, “namely” is used to add additional information to a sentence.
  •   The campaign will be targeting women (which people? Who and who?)
  •   The campaign will be targeting women, namely the elderly and the pregnant mothers (addition information- the campaign will be targeting elderly and pregnant mothers)

It must be noted that the use of “namely” does not change the meaning of the sentences, even if “namely” is removed from the sentences and clauses are rephrased. The new sentence will be independently accurate.

For instance:

  •   Jimmy will be sending people over to your place for counseling, namely Ann and Joash.

Jimmy will be sending people over to your place.

Jimmy will be sending Ann and Joash over to your place for counseling.

  •   The medics are participating, namely the nursing department.

The medics are participating.

The nursing department is participating.

Punctuation Of “Namely”

In most cases, “namely” is used with commas. The comma can be used before the application of the term and to divide the two clauses. For example:

  •   They brought the kids, namely Papa and Mama.
  •   In the game, we showed lots of qualities, namely tackling and dribbling skills.

The comma can also come after “namely,” but in this situation, there is a dash before, “namely.” See the examples:

  •   These are allegations against Victor –namely, that he bribed the security officer.
  •   I still salute the old technology, –namely, printing technology.

did you know sign

In some cases, commas surround, “namely.” For example:

  •   Listen to his music, namely, the song ‘Guilty till proven Innocent.’
  •   We should hire more teachers, namely, the science and language heads.

Without commas, dashes set off, “namely.”

  •   The students face lots of challenges — namely use of drugs and pornography — this will affect their performance.
  •   The new law requires some interpretation — namely the sexuality that maturity begins at sixteen years.

The Difference Between “Named” And “Namely.”

Does named and “namely” mean the same thing? Or is “namely” used instead of named? The answer is straightforward, named does not mean “namely.” Named is used to talk about something or someone. Examples:

  •   My cat is named Miaow
  •   I named my last born, “Paula.”
  •   My daughters are named Doris and Sally.

On the other hand, as mentioned above, “namely” is used to provide more details about something.

  •   I have cats, namely meow and boxer.
  •   I love eating fruits, namely plums and apples.

Differences Between “Namely,” “Including” And “Such As”

Expressions such as “for instance,” “such as,” “including,” and “for example” are essential in a sentence. This kind of expression refers to other members of the class. But “namely” plays a different role,  that is a specific role. Consider the following hypothetical example:

  •   Assume you were doing some pesticides test, and you tested three pesticides, X, y, and Z, and those are the only ones you tested. You correctly say, “I tested three pesticides, namely (X, Y, and Z).
  •   But if you tested more than the three pesticides, then you rightly say, “the pesticides I tested include X, Y, and Z.” The term include cannot be used when the list contains all members of the class. Other phrases such as “for instance,” “for example,” and “such as” are not exhaustive but illustrative. Meaning, in your sentences, you mention few items “poisons such as X, Y, Z were tested”

Common “Namely” Contradictions

Sometimes in your reading expedition, you may find sentences that “namely” are used at the start of a sentence. Such sentences tend to use “namely” in the place of “for.” Such sentences contradict the meaning of the whole sentence. Therefore, users should avoid using, namely, at the beginning of a sentence. Examples:

  •   Namely cows, goats, and sheep. (namely contradicts the sentence)
  • The other contradiction is the use of “namely” to specify one whole sentence.
  •   One great marathon event that stands out in the marathon of the 1980s, namely the tone down of racial tone on black people.

The sentence above uses “namely” to specify the whole sentence and name only one item or object (one great marathon). This contradicts the exclusive use of “namely” in the sentence. “Namely” should be used to specify some objects from other objects. The sentence can be regarded as an incorrect or incomplete sentence.  

The other contradiction when it comes to using the word “namely” is the use of “namely” to explain the whole sentence or placing, namely, after assumption. For example:

  •   It is simpler to place even numbers than odd numbers. Assume. Namely, the threes are placed before twos…

Other “namely” Examples

  •   In the 1800s, the country had an extraordinary expenditure, namely the power expenditure of £100,000,000 and military expenditure of £120,000,000.
  •   The school’s various departments are so disorganized, namely the guidance and counseling and nursing department.
  •   At that time, the essential tools were running, namely the mixer and funnel. This made the work more comfortable, even though we struggled with the foundation.
  •   The road connects two towns, namely, Tokyo and Osasuna.
  •   I was inspired by people to write my book, namely Tobias and Martin.
  •   The company should concentrate on its target, namely elderly women and young mothers.
  •   The lecturer mentioned three students, namely Sarah, John, and Sylvia.
  •   In the paper, I will explicitly deal with social aspects, namely individual commitment and social custom.
  •   The conservative is blaming various factors for their incompetence, namely technology and disrespect.
  •   After the funeral, he did not do anything, namely, taking care of the widow and the orphans.
  •   In this lesson, I will handle the various topics, namely sentence composition, and structure.
  •   We all need to protect our reputation, namely the character and people association.
  •   The thunder hates two things, namely the sharp objects and naked wires.
  •   After getting pregnant, she did stupid things, namely seeing his previous lover and her college friends.

sentence example with namely

Final Thoughts

“Namely” is one word that the user should be keen on. This is because if the word is placed wrongly in a sentence, it can complicate the whole sentence. In the sentence, the user must ensure that a group of items or objects have been mentioned. After mentioning the group of things, he should use, namely, to name what stands out in that specific group.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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