When listing items and ending the list with "etc", should there be a comma before "etc."? E.g.

red, green, blue, etc.


red, green, blue etc.

Related question, though this one involves the word "and", so I am no sure if the answer applies to this question or not: Should I put a comma before the last item in a list?

2 Answers 2


If there's no conjunction at the end of the list (and / or for example), then a comma is required. Thus, the correct version is:

red, green, blue, etc.

(Note that etc. should include the full stop, as it is an abbreviation.)

Regarding commas before and (or any conjunction) at the end of the list, that is a matter of huge debate. The subject is well-discussed on the Wikipedia page for the serial comma. Although it's probably fair to say that usage of the serial comma is non-standard in general, many notable institutions and publications such as Oxford and Harvard Universities strongly recommend its usage. There are certainly some good arguments for its usage, mainly in terms of consistency and unambiguity. If you want to open up this can of worms, I suggest we start another question (and make it community wiki for its subjectivity).

  • 2
    There is already a question about serial comma, even if the topic is to use the comma also for the last item.
    – apaderno
    Aug 20, 2010 at 13:47
  • 3
    ...to which Eyvind links in the question. :)
    – kitukwfyer
    Aug 20, 2010 at 19:19
  • 1
    "et" means "and" in Latin so, by your own definition, the comma is optional Sep 27, 2020 at 23:38
  • The rule does not apply to abbreviations, an even less when they're taken from another language!
    – Noldorin
    Sep 28, 2020 at 0:07
  • @Noldorin In the German language they do. At least in this particular context.
    – mike
    Oct 11, 2021 at 9:40

Since et cetera means and so forth, your question is very nearly identical to the serial comma question. However, I would say that the comma before etc. is much more prevalent than the serial comma, but still we have to put the comma before etc.

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