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I have a sentence where I want to say that X is one of several things in a category, i.e.

"...where X is an A, B, C, or D, etc." The elements A, B, C, or D are not exhaustive, so I want to include etc. to indicate that, but I don't know where to place etc.

  • "...where X is an A or B or C or ..." – Edwin Ashworth Nov 14 '13 at 0:38
  • So if that's the end of the sentence, I just use four periods? That always seemed a bit awkward to me. – stackedAE Nov 14 '13 at 0:55
  • You do not use four periods. In fact, where are you seeing four periods? I am quite confused. Did you mean to comment on a different question? – RegDwigнt Nov 14 '13 at 15:42
  • Well, when I searched online, sources seemed to recommend using four periods for ellipsis at the end of a sentence. With three periods, wouldn't it look strange? E.g. "You should use an X, where X is an A or or C or ... Furthermore, this is a different sentence." – stackedAE Nov 15 '13 at 21:34
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The reason it's awkward is because etc. means “and other things”: et cetera. For your use, you need “or other things”, for which there is no Latin phrase in English (it would use vel, the Latin for or) and consequently no abbreviation.

This is a pity, because we are reduced to spelling out the alternatives. There's no handy three-letter doobry to use.

...where X is an A, B, C, D or some such.

You could use inter alia, “among others”, to indicate that other choices are available. You might get away with inter al. or even int. al., but it’s normally spelled in full.

...where X is an A, B, C or D, inter alia.

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I believe you simply need to omit the "or" from your list: "...where X is an A, B, C, D, etc." Et cetera becomes part of your list, meaning "and others", or "and so on".

  • And the full stop after etc is dual-purpose if you prefer using 'etc.' or single-purpose if you have simplified to 'etc', 'ie', 'eg' etc. (I have found an 'authority' licensing the dropping of full stops from Latin-sourced abbreviations.) (I suppose I ought also to mention another 'authority' I found recommending the dropping of Latin-sourced abbreviations.) – Edwin Ashworth Nov 14 '13 at 11:09

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