It's all about apples, oranges, bananas, etc.


It's all about apples, oranges, bananas, etc..


What happens if the abbreviation is inside parentheses, do you place a dot after and before the closing parenthesis?

It's all about fruit (apples, bananas, etc.).

  • 11
    I always avoid the awkwardness of this by writing "et cetera" in full sentence-finally. It doesn't look all that awkward, and it might have the pleasant side-effect of breaking people of the "exetera" habit.
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 17:40
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    @Jon, sorry for being rude, but I completely disagree, I personally think writing et cetera is nerdish and annoying. Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 17:50
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    @Shimmy: Eh, doesn't bother me. I rarely use the phrase anyway, preferring to re-word. Why should it look "nerdish and annoying" anyway? Just that it's unabbreviated and less common?
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Jan 10, 2011 at 17:52
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    @jerimy: That's why I didn't post my comment as an answer...because it's not an answer. I was just sharing my own experience.
    – Jon Purdy
    Commented Jan 19, 2011 at 23:08
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    ...Or you can say, "and so on", which is the translation of "et cetera" into English, which is the language you are writing in after all. Commented Feb 14, 2012 at 7:12

7 Answers 7


The correct form of your example:

It’s all about apples, oranges, bananas, etc.

Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style states:

This one is simple enough: never double up periods. If a statement ends with “etc.” the period in the abbreviation does double duty, serving as the full stop to end the sentence. If, however, you need another mark of punctuation after an abbreviation, you can put it after the period. So:

  • This was her first trip to the U.S.
    (The period does double-duty, ending both the abbreviation and the sentence.)
  • Is this your first trip to the U.S.?
    (The period ends the abbreviation, but the question mark ends the sentence.)
  • On her first trip to the U.S., Kristina lost her passport.
    (The period ends the abbreviation, but the sentence keeps going after the comma.)

The only thing to remember: don't double the periods. Everything else is logical enough.

  • 1
    Tho aren't they wrong about including a period in the parenthesis? Commented May 1, 2017 at 20:42
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    (No: english.stackexchange.com/a/11129/184025.)
    – shim
    Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 15:07
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    sigh Major thank you, Jimi. I have been saying, "etc.." or fully spelling it out as, "etcetera." for years. As a software developer who primarily uses languages with rigid syntax, it almost feels incorrect to me to close off the sentence without also explicitly closing off the abbreviation. Alas, I appear to be mistaken! Thank you for shedding light on this.
    – Spencer D
    Commented Nov 3, 2018 at 3:58

If etc. occurs at the end of a sentence, then you do not add another period.

It's all about apples, oranges, bananas, etc.

However, if etc. occurs at the end of a clause, you can add a comma or other punctuation mark after it.

I bought the apples, oranges, etc., but they were all rotten.

Grammar.ccc.com gives the following rule:

When an abbreviation with a period ends a sentence, that period will suffice to end the sentence.

  • 23
    My programmer side and my aesthetic side have been in a fight about this one for a long time. The first one said that now something is hanging in the air, but the other said it just didn't look right. Guess aesthetics win here. Thanks.
    – gligoran
    Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 8:47
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    Prior to the invention of the Linotype, typographers would follow the abbreviation with a period and narrow space if it occurred mid-sentence, or with a period and wide space if it appeared at the end, thus avoiding ambiguity except in the case where the period was the last thing on the line (an occurrence which people hand-setting type would try to avoid mid-paragraph whether the period marked an abbreviation, end of sentence, or both. Unfortunately, Linotype-compatible typesetting conventions have erased the distinction.
    – supercat
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 17:07
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    @Shimmy I think your update should be a new question. Your original question was too long ago. Now your updated question, which contains a new question, has gone unnoticed for over a year. I just happened to stumble across it from a Google search.
    – Brandin
    Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 20:59
  • @Brandin I think it's pointless. I'll instead change the title too, and I yet updated the question again... Commented Feb 28, 2018 at 18:36

Note also that, when an abbreviation comes at the end of a sentence, only one full stop is written. You should never write two full stops in a row.

'Guide to Punctuation' by Larry Trask.

  • 4
    If you follow through on the Trask reference, you come to the recommendation 'The rule about using these Latin abbreviations [eg e.g., etc.] is very simple: don't use them.' - which would seem to trump the 'never write two full stops in a row' rule. Personally, I pick and choose amongst the self-appointed style gurus, and would only avoid ex-Latin abbreviations if the audience was especially fussy. I've found a style guide which recommends dropping full stops from abbreviations unless ambiguities would thus arise; this convention avoids the original problem and cuts punctuation clutter. Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 19:58

If is was not a question, then you would not need two periods at the end of the sentence, but you do seem to need the period before a question mark.

You might just use the full et cetera. Then you don't have to worry about the problem at all.

  • 1
    I just read the same thing in a Grammar Girl tip yesterday. I was a little surprised to read that. I've never written "... etc.?" but always "... etc?" Live and learn. Sigh. Well, no one has ever called me on that minor error, so I'll continue to make it. Some habits just aren't worth changing.
    – user21497
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 1:03
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    @BillFranke It's only an error if you get paid for fixing it. Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 1:12
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    @StoneyB: Or if a journal editor or reviewer calls it an error and demands that I change it. I love it when non-native speakers and writers of English tell me, with the full authority of their PhD in microbiology behind them, that a sentence containing something like "... which meant that that hypothesis was incorrect ...": "This sentence ungrammatical. It have two 'that's."
    – user21497
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 1:20
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    @BillFranke "Make you a deal: I don't tell you how to sequence genomes, you don't tell me how to write." I can handle those guys. It's the lawyers I hate. Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 1:28
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    – gam3
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 23:52

Rules, rules, rules! Who made that rule? It’s punctuation of a type that is just a style thing. If you want to double the stop, do so. You may be bucking the contemporary trend, but nobody will have any difficulty reading what you have written as a result. Most house styles are against it merely because it looks untidy on the page. That’s all.

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    yuo kan olso rite gramir mistaikes if ther ar no rulz Commented May 4, 2020 at 16:04
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    @ShimmyWeitzhandler — Your comment seems to betray an inability to discriminate between spelling and punctuation, and suggests you confuse the two with grammar. I know what I am talking about when I refer to house styles, because I have had to follow many different ones in my career. As regards even standard punctuation, this has varied over the years. Compare that of Charles Dickens with Monica Dickens, for example. Facility in writing English involves understanding why you should or should not do something, or whether there is a choice and how to make it. Even children need to be told why.
    – David
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 16:33
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    Not kind to traditions but impeccable logic.
    – LPH
    Commented Oct 8, 2020 at 19:01

No, which I say because we just don't and I learned that we don't, but since references are desirable, here's what Grammar Girl has to say.


You simply do not put another period after "etc." when it ends a sentence.

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