Todays Quick Grammar Tip concerns the use of etcetera, what it means, how to remember when to use it and also what punctuation to use it.
The Latin term etcetera, or et cetera has been adopted into the English language. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines et cetera as: and others, especially of the same kind.
Oxford English Dictionary defines it the following way:
- used at the end of a list to indicate that further, similar items are included: we’re trying to resolve problems of obtaining furnishings, books, et cetera
- indicating that a list is too tedious or clichéd to give in full:we’ve all got to work hard, pull our weight, et cetera, et cetera ( a very informal way to say this in modern American English might be “blah, blah, blah”, or even “yada, yada, yada”.)
Latin, from et ‘and’ and cetera ‘the rest’ (neuter plural of ceterus ‘left over’)
If you wish to avoid the use of etcetera you can say “and so on”, or “and so forth”.
Now for the correct punctuation when you use etcetera. It can be spelled three different ways, for example; etcetera, et cetera and the most common way is the abbreviation, “etc.”. When we write we typically use the etc. abbreviation. There should be a comma before the word, then the word is spelled “etc.”, with all lowercase letters, without italics and also only one period if the word is the last word in the sentence.
Some situations where you should not use “etcetera” include the following:
When you are listing people
Following the word “and”
Do not use in a list that begins with “such as” or “for example” (remember, in these situations we use “i.e.” or “e.g.”
Do not use it behind a complete list
Do not use it behind a list that is not clear as to what else may be included.
Well, this was by no means a complete study of the subject, merely a Quick Tip as the title states.
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