Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera: Dear Sexy G,

Dear Sexy Grammarian,

Since etc. closes a lot of sentences, it feels insufficient to just use one period, but using two, one for the abbreviation and one for the sentence, is awkward. What should I do?

Thanks,

Pablo

Dearest Pablo-
Just end the sentence with one period doing both jobs (terminating the sentence and the abbreviation). But I am curious about your choice to close a lot of sentences with the word etcetera in the first place. I think of etcetera as an overused and often poorly used word.

Etcetera can mean “and others” or “and so on.” So it’s useful when you have established the beginning of a list and don’t want to list everything. But we often use it out of laziness. Why don’t you want to give us the whole list? Is it really so long?

I believe in being as specific as possible in writing. When you reach for the abbreviation, etc., ask yourself, “What am I replacing here?” Sometimes you may be able to add just one more item to your list and avoid the abbreviation all together.

Another solution is to save etc. for bullet lists and use “and so forth” or “and so on” when you want to convey the same idea in running prose.

Yours,

The Sexy Grammarian

Frequently, a client or online fan shares a burning grammar question, and I always post answers here on the blog.  If you have a question, don’t hesitate to write to me. Looking for more attention? Get affordable, project-focused private sessions in person or via Skype or email.

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