The very popular "etc" is variously used in different situations.

I have a couple of questions concerning this abbreviation:

  1. Do we need to place a full stop in the middle of a sentence after the "etc"?
  2. Is it correct that "etc" can mean only similar things?


  • We have been to Ireland, Sweden, Poland, France, etc. (and other countries) where we've seen many amazing places!
  • I have Pencils, Brushes, Books, CD-discs, etc. (not similar objects)

Edit: According to http://www.wikihow.com/Use-%22Etc.%22-Correctly

  1. In most cases I see a full stop after "etc" in the middle of a sentence but if it means "and the rest" or "and other things" then why should there be a full stop? Also, at the end of "etc", there should be a period. (This does not apply if you are using modern "open punctuation", which dispenses with periods for eg, ie etc). What does this mean?
  2. It's important that the items in the list are of the same kind so that "etc." does not confuse the reader.
  • Hi, SovereignSun, please try to use the search box before you ask a question here. I think Can etc. mean “or something else”? answers No. 3. Please remove it or consider asking another question explaining why the linked question doesn't help you. No. 1 question seems confusing. Is it (1) when it is used at the end of a sentence or (2) in the middle of a sentence? What does your research show?
    – user140086
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 9:59
  • Etc. is an abbreviation for the Latin et cetera, "and other things*. Whether this abbreviation has a trailing period is a matter of style. And is redundant, as et means and. Etc. may extend any type of list.
    – deadrat
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 10:01
  • @Rathony I can't see how the link answers my question. Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 10:06
  • @Rathony Agreed! Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 10:18
  • 1
    @deadrat I acquired the habit of placing a period after 'etc' when I got tired of MS Word correcting me for not including it. Now it looks wrong when I don't use it, although it can get clumsy; for example when you want to place a comma after it. French (and other Continental) people writing in English very often use an ellipsis (...) in place of etc., and I think that sometimes works better.
    – Charl E
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 13:56

1 Answer 1


Dictionary definitions:

etc. (also &c.) Oxford Dictionaries
short for et cetera

et cetera (also etcetera) Oxford Dictionaries
1. Used at the end of a list to indicate that further, similar items are included:
‘we're trying to resolve problems of obtaining equipment, drugs, et cetera’
1.1 Indicating that a list is too tedious or clichéd to give in full:
‘we've all got to do our duty, pull our weight, et cetera, et cetera’

etc. Cambridge Dictionary
abbreviation for et cetera: and other similar things.
It is used to avoid giving a complete list:
We saw lots of lions, tigers, elephants, etc.

To address the two questions, in the above-quoted definitions:

  1. Both the Oxford & Cambridge Dictionaries show etc. as followed by a full stop (also known as a period). That is because etc. is an abbreviation for et cetera, and, in English, abbreviations are typically followed by a period in order to indicate that they are abbreviations (unless the abbreviation ends with the last letter of the un-abbreviated word). The inclusion of the period is, however, now often followed less strictly than it used to be.

  2. Again, both dictionaries define et cetera as referring to similar items. If you think about it, it would be ridiculous for it to include dissimilar items because, if it did, it could refer to absolutely anything! The degree of similarity is, however, open for the writer or reader to decide or interpret.

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