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    • Join Date: May 2008
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    #1

    "etc" and "so on" in formal writing

    Hi everybody,
    I've heard that "etc" and "so on" can't be used in formal writing. Is this true?
    And if it is, then what can I use in case I want to state the idea that there are still other things in my list?

    E.g:
    I have some cheese, bread, apples, etc.

    Many thanks in advance
    Newbie


    • Join Date: May 2008
    • Posts: 135
    #2

    Re: "etc" and "so on" in formal writing

    Could anybody please answer my question?

    Many thanks once again :)
    Newbie

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: "etc" and "so on" in formal writing

    Quote Originally Posted by newbie View Post
    Could anybody please answer my question?

    Many thanks once again :)
    Newbie
    Hi,

    "Et cetera" is perfectly acceptable, etc. is simply the contraction and, in my view, equally acceptable.

  2. thedaffodils's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: "etc" and "so on" in formal writing

    Hi Newbie,

    I am neither a teacher nor a native English speaker. Here are my two cents.

    The two phrases are almost equal. "etc." is a Latin abbreviation while " and so on" is an English phrase.


    1. etc. /etc

    etc., etc
    WRITTEN ABBREVIATION FOR et cetera: and other similar things. It is used to avoid giving a complete list:
    Et means "and"; cetera (plural of ceterum/caeterum) means "the rest."

    e.g. We saw lots of lions, tigers, elephants, etc.

    2. and so on

    Please note it is " and so on" rather than " so on".

    and so on (ALSO and so forth)
    together with other similar things:
    e.g. schools, colleges and so on

    Hope this helps.

    Ref:
    -Online Cambridge Dictionary
    -Wikipedia


    • Join Date: May 2008
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    #5

    Re: "etc" and "so on" in formal writing

    Thank you very much, Bhaisahab and thedaffodils :)

    Actually, I already know about the use of "etc" and "and so on", thedaffodils. I'm just a bit confused as somebody has told me it's not good to use them in formal writing. If possible, please follow this link and then tell me your idea:

    No "etc" or "so on" in formal writing?

    Many thanks
    Newbie

  3. thedaffodils's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: "etc" and "so on" in formal writing

    Hi Newbie,

    1. I'd like to learn what the definition of your " formal English" is. I think "informal English" refers to spoken English and "formal English" refers to literary English. And There are different categories in literary English, e.g. legal English, plain English.

    2. I don't think " etc." and " and so on" are informal. Please click the link below. The term-" etc." appears many times in the articles of the well-known media outlet- Washington Post.

    etc search results on washingtonpost.com

    3. I prefer saying the expressions of " etc." or " and so on" are not very watertight logically rather than " informal". On this point, I agree with the person who responded to your post there, that is the quote as following.
    No "etc" or "so on" in formal writing?

    I am terribly sorry to disagree with you, but as a native English speaker with seven years of college and a degree in law, and as a teacher of English, I have to insist that my use of the language here is correct, and that there is no significant difference between "etc." and the phrasing I provided. Please take it to another native English speaker who teaches English if you want a second opinion.

    If you are looking for another turn of phrase, you could use the legalistic and wordy ''including but not limited to" phrase that lawyers often put in contracts to express the idea that the list of items mentioned is nonexhaustive.

    Have you looked up the meaning of "such as" and "etc." in a dictionary? I think you will see that you are in error.

    Regards,

    Rick
    As I know, in legal documents, lawyers have to consider whether every word and every sentence are watertight logically and avoid any possible ambiguity.

    For instance, I won't accept such as a term as below in my house renting contract.

    Tenant must pay utility fee, etc. ( some landlord might make use of contentious term to charge the tenant unreasonably. It is better to list all due charges to avoid any possible ambiguity )


    In conclusion, different formal writings require different expressions. In my opinion , thesis, "etc" or "and so on" should avoid to be used in legal documents or thesis.


    Hope this helps!

    PS. Again, I am neither a teacher nor a native English speaker.
    Last edited by thedaffodils; 15-May-2008 at 21:37.


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    #7

    Re: "etc" and "so on" in formal writing

    I think generally it is not regarded as good to use "etc." or similar rather loose informal terms in formal or academic writing.

    Your sentence: I have some cheese, bread, apples, etc. is more informal than formal writing.


    • Join Date: May 2008
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    #8

    Re: "etc" and "so on" in formal writing

    Hi thedaffodils,
    Thanks a lot for your idea (it surely helps :P)

    And as for the definition of "formal English", I personally don't think it's just literary English (It's more than just literary, you see ;)

    Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

    literary
    adjective
    connected with literature: literary criticism / theory
    (of a language or style of writing) suitable for or typical of a work of literature: It was Chaucer who really turned English into a literary language.
    liking literature very much; studying or writing literature: a literary man
    Last edited by newbie; 17-May-2008 at 05:48.

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