Visits to this Blog

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

EwR Commentary - INTRODUCTION & PART 1: The Expendable Use of the Word "Et cetera" (Etcetera or Etc.)


There are many people who use the abbreviation "etc." for the word "etcetera" in their writing.  Some people even use this word during speech.  Are you one of those people who uses the word "etcetera" all the time?  Have you ever asked yourself why you do it?  Maybe after you read this you will never use this word again.  In order to contemplate why you might hesitate to use either the word "etcetera" or its abbreviation "etc.", let's reflect upon the three following relevant pieces of information: (1) the origin, definition and usage of the word "etcetera"; (2) the reason why so many people use this word and its abbreviation; and (3) alternatives that exist in order to avoid using the word "etcetera" (etc.).

To begin with, it will help to understand the origin, definition and usage of the word "etcetera" and its abbreviation "etc.".  The early 15th century Latin words "et" and "cetera" are the root of the one-word form which literally means "and" plus "that which remains".  The common abbreviation before the 20th century was "&c."; but as we all know today; it is written "etc."

The word "etcetera" (also written "et cetera") is almost always written in its abbreviated form (etc.) and is said in its full form (et cetera, etcetera).  It is used to show that more examples of the same type or nature of something exist, but are being excluded in order to keep the written or oral communication briefer.

Let's take a look at two specific examples.  In our first example, you can say "etcetera" (or write "etc.") in the following statement in order to demonstrate that there are more fruits that exist in your purchase, but that they are not being mentioned here in order to be brief - "I bought some pears, apples, etcetera / et cetera / etc. at the grocery store".  When the word "etcetera" (or its abbreviation "etc.") is used in the middle of a sentence, it may be followed by a comma (,), semi-colon (;), colon (:), or a dash mark (-). in order to separate phrases.  In our particular case above, none of these punctuation marks are necessary since a clause isn't being used after the word or its abbreviation.

Our second example statement includes the following where we use "etcetera" (or "etc.") at the end of the same aforementioned sentence.  In this case the statement would be written "I bought some fruit at the grocery store including pears, apples, etc.", or can be said "I bought some fruit at the grocery store including pears, apples, etcetera (et cetera)".  Notice that the written sentence doesn't need an additional period at the end of it since the abbreviation "etc." already includes one.

No comments: