Et Cetera or Etcetera? Which is the Correct U.S. Spelling?

Et Cetera or Etcetera? Which is the Correct U.S. Spelling?

Et cetera and etcetera are so similar that most people think they are the same thing. These people would be right as both spellings are in fact correct. However, you will see one or the other used more frequently depending on where it is that you live.

Et cetera is most commonly used in Canadian English. The single word, etcetera, is mostly used in the United States. Both forms of the word can be abbreviated to etc. in writing to show that a list of something is incomplete.

Et Cetera

Et cetera is an expression that comes from Latin that we use in English to say, “and more similar things” or “so forth”. When you look at the two words and translate them directly from Latin, et cetera quite literally means “and the rest”.

This spelling is most commonly used in Canadian English and less often in American English.

Et in Latin means “and” while cetera means “the rest”. This is why the phrase is combined together to symbolize that there is more to the list than what is being stated.

If using the phrase “et cetera” without a conjunction at the end of a list, you will use a comma in front of it (example: berries, watermelon, et cetera).

You will see the camera pan from left to right, over all of the instruments, et cetera, then on to the musicians.

That store sells candy, food, et cetera.

She let me know what she likes, what she doesn’t like, et cetera.

At the zoo, you can see the tigers, elephants, monkeys, et cetera.


Etcetera means almost the same exact thing as et cetera. Etcetera is defined as an unspecified number of additional things or people. The single word was first used in 1957 as a noun in American English as a modification of the Latin phrase.

Just like the Latin phrase, etcetera is used at the end of a list to symbolize that there is more than what is being included. It will be used most commonly when the list is too long to add everything, but it still needs to be clear that there is more.

Some weight-related problems include hypertension, diabetes, etcetera.

You should make sure you feed your kids healthy food like fruits, vegetables, etcetera.

Liquid items like shampoo, conditioner, etcetera, should only be packed in a carry-on if absolutely necessary.


Etc. is the abbreviation of et cetera and etcetera. It is most commonly used at the end of a list or with bullet points.

When using etc. at the end of a sentence, you will not need an extra period. For example, you wouldn’t write etc.. to finish the sentence, you would just write etc. and start your next sentence.

If the end of the sentence needs an exclamation point or question mark, you will not get rid of the period. Instead, you will follow the period with the proper punctuation (etc.! or etc.?).

Always check that your child’s backpack has their pencils, paper, etc.

Taking care of a dog is a lot of work with the feeding, walking, grooming, etc.

Do you need me to bring dessert, an appetizer, snacks, etc.?

When to Use Which?

If you live in the United States, you will use the single word etcetera and etc. If you live in Canada, you will use the phrase et cetera and etc.

When deciding between using the abbreviation and the word or phrase, it is up to your preference and what you are writing. In most cases, etc. will be accepted, but there may be some instances where the word or phrase is preferred by the recipient of your work.