I see this sentence:

There are many examples like mining, farming, foresting etc., that are dangerous to society because they cause environmental damage.

Shouldn't "etc.," be written instead with the one dots assimilated i.e. "etc," so that the comma assimilates the dot? Or is this not a practice to assimilate the dots?

Samt way for instance with an acronym immediately before a comma then I think the dots should get assimilated e.g. "N.A.S.A, U.S.A, and other "

or should all dots be left there?

I also wonder about the dot in use with brackets:

" ...other countries (such as U.S.A.). "

Is the above correct? It looks like too many dots and I think that the closing of a bracket assimilates a dot in English as a rule which is not in other languages.

Could you answer about or comment on what the rules and practices are in these cases?


There is a difference in practice between British and American English. As Larry Trask says, ‘British usage favours omitting the full stop in abbreviations which include the first and last letters of a single word, such as Mr, Mrs, Ms, Dr and St; American usage prefers Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr. and St., with full stops.’ Etc. does not include its last letter and so the full stop is normally used in both varieties of the language, even when it is followed by a comma. However, when an abbreviation such as etc. comes at the end of a sentence only one full stop is required. On Latin abbreviations in general, Trask's advice is stark, but admirable: 'The rule about using these Latin abbreviations is very simple: don't use them.'

Some abbreviations are so well known that they are no longer normally indicated by full stops at all. They include BBC, CIA, USA, UK, NATO, UN.

  • 2
    If we don't use "etc.", what should we use? "et cetera"?
    – Betty
    Oct 31 '12 at 7:55
  • 3
    There are English alternatives, such as and so on. Longer, I know, but, as Trask continues, the use of Latin abbreviations ‘is only appropriate in special circumstances in which brevity is at a premium, such as in footnotes. It is very poor style to spatter your page with these things, and it could be disastrous to use them without being quite sure what they mean . . . Using a Latin abbreviation does not relieve you of the obligation of punctuating your sentence. Again, if you avoid Latin abbreviations, you won't get into this sort of trouble.’ Oct 31 '12 at 8:09

I believe that your sentence construct is wrong. You shouldn't put a comma after etc. in the example sentence you've given.

A lion, giraffe, crocodile and bear went to the jungle.

There is no comma after bear.

Etc is short for et cetera or "and other things" in english. Substitute it into your sentence:

There are many examples like mining, farming, foresting and other things that are dangerous to society because they cause environmental damage.

So this won't be an issue as there is supposed to be no comma where you have it in your sentence.

To answer your question, however - in British english it is OK to have punctuation adjacent in a sentence in this instance. The full stop indicates an abbreviation of the phrase et cetera and the comma indicates a clause break, or a pause.

On another note etc doesn't need to be followed by a full stop at all. This might be colloquial, but the full stop tends to be omitted.

If in doubt then you can just substitute in the full word. So for instance this sentence seems awkward:

Its ok Mr., you can stay here.

So, I would substitute in the full word:

Its ok mister, you can stay here.

But that's just preference.

  • 1
    Terry Pratchett has had fights with his publisher about the difference between Mr and mister. The first is a title, so common it's almost invisible. The second is either vaguely threatening, or is addressed to a member of the "lower orders", or both. (You'd address posh gents as sir, of course.)
    – TRiG
    Nov 1 '12 at 12:23
  • Maybe Terry Pratchett should learn how to appropriately set tone in his writing, then the difference in spelling won't change the tone itself. [Disclaimer: controversy deliberate and tongue in cheek - I've never read anything by Terry Pratchett, nor do I disagree with TRiG] Nov 1 '12 at 13:08

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