‘Ect.’ or ‘Etc.’: How to Spell It Correctly?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on November 18, 2022

Wondering whether it’s spelled ‘ect’ or etc’? We’ll discuss that and more in this article. You’ll learn how to use it in a sentence and how to spell out the full word.

The short answer is that the correct spelling is ‘etc.’ Any other spelling of the word is incorrect and ungrammatical.

Et Cetera, Etcetera, Etc.

So, as you just learned, the correct way to spell the word ‘etcetera’ is ‘etc.’ Make sure you use the period when using the shortened version of the word. 

The Easiest Way to Use ‘Etc.’ Correctly

The easiest way to use ‘etc.’ correctly is to think about what the word is replacing. If you can’t substitute the word for ‘and so forth,’ then you’re probably using the word wrong.

Ect. Vs. Etc. – Common Errors in English

It’s pretty common for people to misuse the word ‘etcetera’ in both its shortened version and its standard version. But if you want to be among the ones using it right, make sure you follow the rules for usage.

But first, let’s quickly define the word.

Definition and Meaning 

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word is: “a number of unspecified additional persons or things,” “unspecified additional items: odds and ends,” and “and others, especially of the same kind.”

The Cambridge definition of the word is: “and other similar things.”

Some synonyms of the word include:

  • Notion
  • Sundries
  • Novelties
  • Odds and ends

A Brief History

The first known use of the word was in the 12th century. It has Latin origins and retains its original meaning. It translates to and others or, more literally, and other things.

The noun was used as early as 1597.

Rules for Using ‘Etc.’

Now that we know the definition and the correct spelling let’s get into how to use the word correctly. Believe it or not, a lot of native English speakers use this word incorrectly all the time.

Before we show you some example sentences, let’s talk about the correct usage of the word.

You’d only use the word ‘etc.’ when you mean “and so forth” or “all items in the same category.”

You can use it to describe a list when you don’t feel like listing out everything on the list. But if you want to ensure you don’t confuse anyone, use the word only when everything you’re listing is of the same kind or type.

Another good rule to follow is to never use the word in combination with words like “such as” or “for example.”

This is because these phrases both imply that you’re not going to make a complete list because you’re giving a few examples already. So, there’s no need for the additional implication that the list is not complete.

Another rule of thumb is never to use it more than once in a sentence. Some people like to repeat the word. While that’s okay colloquially, you wouldn’t use it in a professional setting, such as at the office.

Be sure never to use the word ‘and’ when you’re going to be using ‘etc.’ It’s repetitive because the word already means ‘and.’

Finally, don’t use ‘etc.’ if there are no more items on the list. Also, you should never use ‘etc.’ to refer to people. Instead, you’d use ‘et al.’

Punctuation Rules

When writing out the word, don’t forget to use the period at the end. If you’re going to be using a question mark, make sure the question mark goes after the period in the word. It might seem like it’s ungrammatical; however, it’s actually correct.

The same thing goes for exclamation points and semicolons.

When using parentheses, put them around the list of items and add ‘etc.’ if you need to.

How to Use ‘Etc.’ In a Sentence Correctly

Now that you’re well-versed in the rules for using the word let’s take a look at how to use it in a sentence correctly.

Check out a few examples of how to use the word in a sentence:

  • I need to go pick up some ingredients for my salad (lettuce, croutons, cheese, carrots, etc.).
  • She has tons of baked goods (cakes, pies, cookies, etc.).
  • We could use water, soda, tea, apple cider, etc. (all beverages)

As you can see, using the word ‘etc.’ in a sentence is fairly easy as long as you stick to the usage rules and the punctuation rules.

Final Thoughts on ‘Ect.’ and ‘Etc.’

To recap, the correct spelling of the word is ‘etc.’ Any other spelling of the word is incorrect and ungrammatical.

When using it in a sentence, make sure never to use it with phrases like ‘such as’ because it’s repetitive. And remember never to use it when referring to people. Instead, you’d use ‘et al.’

Still not convinced you got it down? Don’t be afraid to pop back over and browse through our library of articles dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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