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 think correct usages of "and" and "etc." are:

A, B, C, and etc.
A, B, and etc.

But the example usage of "or" and "etc." I found in my dictionary is:

A or B, etc.

Why it is not:

A, B, or etc.

in the same way as "A, B, and etc." or as "A, B, or C"?

And when there are A, B, C, is the following correct?

A, B, or C, etc.

And if I omit the "or", which meaning do I get?

  • A, B, etc.
    1. = "A, B, and etc."?
    2. = "A or B, etc."?
  • A, B, C, etc.
    1. = "A, B, C, and etc."?
    2. = "A, B, or C, etc."?
share|improve this question
Et cetera already means "and so on". So and etc. means "and and so on". Lose the and. The rest of your post is not quite clear. You seem to be asking if a comma is inclusive or exclusive. That depends entirely on context. "You can buy a car, a teddy, a yacht, etc." = you can buy any, all, or none of these things. "He was a swimmer, a writer, an architect, etc." = he was all of these things. – RegDwigнt Dec 21 '12 at 10:28
@RegDwighт Thanks for good eamples. If I wanna eat apple, banana, orange, or other fruits, I can say "I want to eat fruits, for example, apple, banana, orange, etc.". If I ate apple, banana, orange, and some other fruits, I can say "I ate fruits, for eaxmple, apple, banana, orange, etc.". Am I correct? – js_ Dec 21 '12 at 10:59
up vote 4 down vote accepted

"Etc." means "and so on"; therefore, "and etc." is always incorrect, as is "A, B, or etc."

Normal usage is "A, B, C, etc." (this is the norm, a list of things that is long and generally well known), "A or B, C or D, etc." (where each letter represents some kind of distinct and clear categorical choice that will be obvious to the reader and essentially impossible to confuse -- this is probably very rare, though).

Most of your examples are impossible in idiomatic English.

share|improve this answer

In a way, the very question is ill-founded I must say. Remember that the abbreviation etc. stands for et cetera "and those that follow," which includes the key word and in it.

*A, B, C, and etc. — incorrect. Say: A, B, C etc. No and; no comma before etc.

In view of the above, it's illogical to use etc. in a series of alternatives (or s).

You may find nearly all of the forms you have mentioned in general informal writing. However, formal writing always avoids etc. itself, and certainly does not use it in the case of a series of alternatives.

share|improve this answer
Some writers of formal prose avoid abbreviations, but others do not. It's strictly a matter of what style manual one is required to use. One can find anything in informal writing. Just look at the crap that's "published" on the Internet. You may not use etc. in the case of a series of alternatives, but that doesn't mean that no one else does. Only solipsists and other presumptuous peacocks believe that the only reality is the one that only they see, and that if they haven't seen something, it doesn't exist. – user21497 Dec 21 '12 at 10:14
The comma before "etc." is optional. It's called the serial or Oxford comma, and just because you don't use it doesn't mean that no one else uses it. I have to downvote this answer for its intolerant prescriptivism, solipsism, and inaccuracies. – user21497 Dec 21 '12 at 10:21

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.