Commas: Should you use a comma before etc.?

By Mary Morel

Reader’s question: Do you need a comma before etc. in a list?

Answer: I don’t think you need a comma before etc., but not everyone agrees. You decide!

apples, peaches, apricots, etc.
apples, peaches, apricots etc.

I have become increasingly aware that many people dislike this little word. They feel it is a lazy word for ‘I can’t think of anything else to include’.

Such critics think it is better to use:

for example, a, b and c
such as a, b and c

Since I am now trying to banish etc. from my vocabulary, I will no longer care about whether or not it is preceded by a comma! (Updating this post, I am aware that I haven’t banished etc. from my language. I still find etc. useful at times, but avoid it in formal writing.)

A related punctuation point is : Do you need a full stop after etc.? I still use a full stop because etc. is an abbreviation for et cetera, but I notice that some writers are dropping the full stop.

What do you think about punctuation with etc.?

Learn more with an online course

Read my longer post on commas.

Learn more about punctuation with my online course, An A to Z of Punctuation (A$39).

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