Et cetera: Usage and Meaning

The moment I wrote the title of this article, I stopped and stared at the first word, probably because none of us are used to writing the full form of this commonly used abbreviation – “etc.”

We have seen this word being used so many times, but what exactly does it mean? From where did it originate? These are some questions we have never really paid attention to. I’ll address these one by one in this article.

Et cetera is a Latin phrase. Et means “and.” Cetera means “the rest.” It is used when you list a few things but cannot complete it as the list may be too long. So, to indicate that there are more items of the same category (which are not listed), we use etc.

For instance, if you are planning a trip to the beach with your friends and want to text them what all to bring along, you can write something like this:

“Please do not forget to pack your bathing suit, sun tan lotion, sunglasses etc.”

As it is an abbreviation, etc is always followed by a period (.) and is mostly used at the end of a sentence. Keep in mind that it can be used only when items of the same category are listed. Like in the example above, all things related to the beach were to be listed, hence et cetera was used.

Tip: If you get confused about whether it can be used or not, just replace it with “and so on” or “so forth”. If it still makes sense, go ahead and use it!

There are many more such foreign words that are used in English, to read more click here:


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