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I'm making some video to spread awareness about coronavirus. In the end, I need to give people a message that along with washing hands, you should also clean your laptop, mouse, phone and similar stuff to prevent infection. Here's what I have:

Option 1: Keep washing your hands, clean and disinfect your laptop, mouse, smartphone etc. daily to prevent infection.

Option 1(b): Keep washing your hands; clean and disinfect your laptop, mouse, smartphone etc. daily to prevent infection.

Option 2: Keep washing your hands, clean and disinfect your laptop, mouse, smartphone and similar stuff daily to prevent infection.

Problem with 1st I see is etc.daily which seem like the sentence ended just before daily. Is it really so?

To correct above, I changed it slightly. But does it make sense? Would similar stuff also relate to stuff similar to hand washing? Or only to the latter part of the sentence which is about accessories?

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  • The abbreviation etc. is usually followed by a point/period, which does not mark the end of a sentence. One clue is that the initial letter of the following word is not capitalised. However, abbreviations are also a matter of style, such as Mr. (AmE) and Mr (BrE). Mar 27, 2020 at 18:04
  • Option 1 doesn't bother me, but if you want alternatives, you could write et cetera or (etc.). Mar 27, 2020 at 18:09

1 Answer 1

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The use of "etc." (and its period) I don't think are really a problem. This is fairly common (and correct usage) and most people will not be confused by the use of a period in an abbreviation in the middle of a sentence.

There are a couple of comments I would make on other aspects, however:

First, you should have a comma before "etc." as it is a separate element of the comma-separated list (I suppose this is technically a version of the "oxford comma" debate, so arguably it could go either way, but I think with "etc." it is much more common/natural to use a comma than not).

In (1), you are mixing a comma-separated list within another comma-separated list, which can be confusing. It looks like in (1b) you tried to address this by using a semicolon after "hands", which is one way to distinguish things, but it's subtle enough many people will still miss the distinction. I would recommend actually using a conjunction like "and" instead:

Keep washing your hands, and clean and disinfect your laptop, mouse, smartphone, etc. daily to prevent infection.

If you really want to avoid "etc." here, "similar stuff" technically works, but "stuff" is a very casual/informal word, and changes the feeling of the whole sentence to be much more "chatty", which is probably not appropriate for serious warnings/advice about a disease. Some alternatives that might work better:

  • and similar items
  • and so forth

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