English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I know "vice versa" more or less means "conversely," but when it is used by itself, should it be punctuated as if it were an independent clause?

Dogs don't like cats, and vice versa.


Dogs don't like cats and vice versa.

share|improve this question
In your example, surely even without the use of vice versa the comma is optional? “Dogs don’t like cats and cats don’t like dogs.” “Dogs don’t like cats, and cats don’t like dogs.” Both seem grammatically fine to me, with just a quite subtle difference in the emphasis and prosody. – PLL May 24 '11 at 9:48
I try to be consistent about how and when I use punctuation. I would consider your first example to be "wrong," but I'm not a grammarian. – LucasTizma May 25 '11 at 3:57
up vote 4 down vote accepted

The Chicago Manual of Style is generally my guide in these things, but I don't have my paper version ready to hand, and the online edition is behind a paywall.

However, they do have a handy Q&A section which is freely available. Do they have a definitive question and answer for you? No, they do not... but they do have quite a number of answers that contain the phrase. Out of six hits on a search for "vice versa", five of them are separated by a comma, and only one is not.

With a comma:

2.77: Cleaning up electronic files "... If necessary, change the language settings of the manuscript and any subdocuments (eg, from British English to American English, or vice versa). ... "

Without a comma:

13.28: Quotations and “quotes within quotes” ... For permissible changes from single to double quotation marks and vice versa, see 13.7 (item 1); see also 13.61. For dialogue, see 13.37. ...

share|improve this answer

Use a comma before "and/or vice versa".

"Vice versa" is a Latin phrase meaning "the other way around".

From Why Learn to Punctuate?:

Well, punctuation is one aspect of written English. How do you feel about other aspects of written English? Would you happily write pair when you mean pear, because you think the first is a nicer spelling? Would you, in an essay, write Einstein were a right clever lad, 'e were, just because that's the way people speak where you come from? Would you consider it acceptable to write proceed when you mean precede, or vice versa, because you've never understood the difference between them? Probably not — at least, I hope not.

Since the above was part of an article talking about how to punctuate, I believe it will carry more weight.

share|improve this answer
while I agree that punctuating correctly is important, it’s also important to remember that the rules of punctuation admit (and have always admitted) much more freedom, variation, and flexibility than the rules of modern spelling. Some choices of punctuation are certainly wrong, but often, several different choices may all be right. – PLL May 24 '11 at 9:48

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.