Tag Archives: commas before etc

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.?

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