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Are there any difference between” etc.” and “and so on”? What cases I shouldn't use “etc.” or “and so on”?

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The abbreviation "etc." stands for "et cetera" which is Latin for "and the rest". But its common meaning in English also include "and so on".

So these two terms, "et cetera" and "and so on" are basically equivalent. Using one vs. the other is a matter of style more than anything else.

If I had to distinguish between them the usage of "etc." or "et cetera" is more common is written English especially where the purpose of the writing is more formal. The usage of "and so on" seems more common in oral communication but I am not aware of any hard-and-fast rule on this.

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  • Most style guides advise against 'etc' in any writing that aspires to be formal. Sep 12 at 12:24
  • I suppose it depends on how formal the writing is. For example a contract or another legal document should never use "etc." or even "and so on" because the meaning can be ambiguous. But note that I said "more formal" as opposed to "formal".
    – jwh20
    Sep 12 at 12:27
  • I believe the Queen's titles are often abbreviated (when they are announcing her at some event) with "et cetera" because otherwise she just has too many of them to list!
    – Kevin
    Sep 13 at 1:12
  • "et cetera" also sounds better when Yul Brynner intones it repeatedly (unabbreviated and NOT written!) Sep 13 at 1:42
  • Thank you for your answer!
    – user141892
    Sep 13 at 5:59

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