et cetera, etcetera, etc.
(A similar topic is discussed in French in the article etc./et cetera)
The Latin term et cetera (“and the rest”) is usually written as two words in Canadian English. However, the one-word spelling etcetera is also correct. The abbreviation for this term is etc. (Note that the c comes last; the misspelling ect. is a common error.)
Because it has become part of the English language, this term is not placed in italics, whether it is written in full or abbreviated.
Et cetera and its more common abbreviation, Etc., are used to show that a list of at least two items is incomplete. The list may include either things or people:
- Karen tries not to eat chips, chocolate, et cetera, even though she loves junk food.
- Bart had read many bestselling Canadian authors: Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Laurence, Wayson Choy, etc.
Etc.can also be used at the end of a bulleted list:
- Michael Ondaatje
- Margaret Laurence
- Wayson Choy
Since the expressions for example and such as already indicate that a list is incomplete, et cetera and Etc.should not be used at the end of a list introduced by either of these expressions or by the abbreviation e.g.
- Incorrect: Al often picks locally grown fruit, such as apples or strawberries, etc.
- Correct: Al often picks locally grown fruit, such as apples or strawberries.
- Correct: Al often picks locally grown fruit: apples, strawberries, etc.
Note: Some guides suggest avoiding the use of etc. in formal writing. As an alternative, you can use such as to introduce a list, or follow the list with a phrase such as “and so on”:
- Maneesha loves any sports activities involving water, such as sailing, swimming and surfing.
- Maneesha loves any sports activities involving water: sailing, swimming, surfing and so on.
Comma with et cetera
A comma is used before et cetera and its abbreviation, etc.:
- I dislike doing yard work: mowing the grass, trimming the hedge, et cetera.
When this term appears in the middle of a sentence, it takes a comma after it as well as before it:
- Yard work can fill up the summer; mowing the grass, trimming the hedge, etc., takes a lot of time.
Period after etc.
The abbreviation Etc. always ends with a period, regardless of any additional punctuation that may follow:
- Karen tries not to eat chips, chocolate, etc., even though she loves junk food.
- Avoid using feminine or masculine pronouns to personify animals, events, ships, etc.: [followed by a list of examples]
- Travellers should not carry sharp objects in their carry-on luggage (scissors, pocket knives, nail clippers, etc.).
If etc. ends a sentence that takes a period, only one period is used:
- At the staff picnic, the employees ate, played football, chatted, etc.
Copyright notice for Writing Tips Plus
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Public Services and Procurement
A tool created and made available online by the Translation Bureau, Public Services and Procurement Canada
Search by related themes
Want to learn more about a theme discussed on this page? Click on a link below to see all the pages on the Language Portal of Canada that relate to the theme you selected. The search results will be displayed in Language Navigator.