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comma before etc.?

English translation: normally yes

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12:12 Nov 19, 2008
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
Linguistics
English term or phrase: comma before etc.?
Would you put a comma before etc.?

TIA!
Barbara
English translation:normally yes
Explanation:
'etc.' is the abbreviation of 'et cetera', which means 'and so forth', so it should be treated the same as the latter phrase.

For a discussion of what is called the 'serial comma', see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma

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Note added at 11 mins (2008-11-19 12:23:23 GMT)
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Always in a list with three or more items, in order to avoid ambiguity (e.g. houses, cars, boats, etc.' -- which clearly indicates that each item in the list is a separate class, not 'houses | cars | boats and items similar to boats')
Selected response from:

Ken Cox
Local time: 04:20
Grading comment
Thank you - also for the link
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
5 +15YES
Andreea Bostan
4 +1normally yesKen Cox


  

Answers


5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
normally yes


Explanation:
'etc.' is the abbreviation of 'et cetera', which means 'and so forth', so it should be treated the same as the latter phrase.

For a discussion of what is called the 'serial comma', see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 11 mins (2008-11-19 12:23:23 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Always in a list with three or more items, in order to avoid ambiguity (e.g. houses, cars, boats, etc.' -- which clearly indicates that each item in the list is a separate class, not 'houses | cars | boats and items similar to boats')

Ken Cox
Local time: 04:20
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 47
Grading comment
Thank you - also for the link

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Andreea Bostan: but even in this case one would say: socks, drinks, and others.
4 mins
  -> see the Wikipedia ref. When I learned grammar in the US (a good while ago), the final comma was normally *not* used.

agree  Patricia Townshend
49 mins

disagree  Can Altinbay: How you punctuate before the "and" in a list is immaterial. I can't think of a case where you wouldn't put a comma before "etc."
2 hrs
  -> e.g. in compact text in a list or caption: 'Houses etc. in the vicinity'-- maybe not pretty according to the style rules, but IMO acceptable.

agree  jccantrell: In the USA, you would put the comma before the 'etc.' for sure.
3 hrs
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4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +15
YES


Explanation:
The correct way is: socks, boots, drinks, etc!

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Note added at 12 mins (2008-11-19 12:25:04 GMT)
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Academically and especially in essay, business, legal this is used. Even before AND one should put comma (i.e socks, boots, and drinks)!

Andreea Bostan
United Kingdom
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in RomanianRomanian

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Nesrin: dsc.dixie.edu/owl/Punctuation%20and%20Usage/Rules%20and%20Guides/Comma,%20sc,c.htm
1 min
  -> thank you :)

agree  swisstell
2 mins
  -> thank you :)

agree  Enza Longo
4 mins
  -> thank you :)

agree  Jack Doughty: But I wouldn't put one in the question! (Would you put a comma in before, etc.? - No)
4 mins
  -> thank you :)

agree  Alice Bootman: Yes, the comma is correct, although it has become very acceptable not to put a comma before the last item in a list.
4 mins
  -> thank you :)

agree  xxxMurielP
24 mins
  -> thank you :)

agree  Adde
35 mins
  -> thank you :)

agree  Demi Ebrite
52 mins
  -> :) Thanks

agree  José J. Martínez: Yes.
1 hr
  -> thank you :)

agree  David Russi
1 hr
  -> thank you :)

agree  Can Altinbay: Jack's example is not a use of etc., but a discussion of its use.
2 hrs
  -> thank you :)

agree  Suzan Hamer
3 hrs
  -> thank you :)

agree  kironne: YES
11 hrs
  -> thank you :)

agree  Phong Le
13 hrs
  -> thank you :)

agree  Pham Huu Phuoc
20 hrs
  -> thank you :)
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