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When “etc.” is used with a singular subject, such as in the following sentence, should the verb be singular or plural?

The battery, etc., is included.

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I would consider this an improper use of the abbreviation etc. Et cetera, and its abbreviation, means "and other things of the same kind," and it is not at all clear what these other things are in your sentence. I would reword your sentence, "The battery and other items are included." And if possible be more specific about what those "other things" are. –  JLG Feb 14 '13 at 3:48
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With electrical items that use batteries, the 'other things' are usually there as well, and obvious as to their purpose with the device (cord, charger) –  amanda witt Feb 14 '13 at 5:15
    
@JLG. If a previous sentence had indeed listed, "the battery, charger, and carrying case" or such, then it would indeed be clear what etc. meant. It could have the problem you suggest, but not necessarily. –  Jon Hanna Feb 14 '13 at 14:44
    
What @amanda said. In such a context, the important thing about the battery being included is that you can start using the product right away, without needing to buy anything else. I can't see anything wrong with using "battery, etc." to mean both the battery and any other [usually, minor] accessories you might need in order to use the product. –  FumbleFingers Feb 14 '13 at 16:43
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

*The battery and the rest of such things is included.

The battery and the rest of such things are included.

While people may translate et cetera in a few different ways, they pretty much all have a similar form: "and so on", "and others", "and so forth", etc.

etc. hasn't been Anglicised in use so as to ignore other features of it's origin, so we generally wouldn't have:

*The battery and etc.

So there isn't much of an argument to be made for treating it any differently to its expanded form. Therefore "the battery etc." is plural.

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Putting aside quibbles over whether battery, etc. is in fact a valid construction (I have no problem with it), the correct verb form is plural are.

It's plural because the subject includes at least two things - the battery, and at least one other thing which is "similar" to the battery in this context (since etc. means and other similar things).

FWIW, it would vary according to the specific product being described, but usually the most significant thing about a battery being supplied is that the product can be used straight away, without you needing to purchase additional accessories. So if it was a microtape voice recorder, for example, you could safely assume "etc." meant a blank microcassette tape was included.

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