Rules and Problems Using Etc., Etc., and Etc.

When writing, there is a dilemma in choosing a particular term, because we come across another term that feels the meaning is not much different. For example, in the use of the expressions “and so on” (etc.), “and so on” (etc.), and “and so on” (etc.). When should we use one of these abbreviations? Many people often use it by referring to the arbitrary principle. Just choose at will because it is considered no difference. There are also those who use it on the basis of the principle of diversity: in one place we use “etc.”, while in another place we use “etc.”, just so that our writing looks rich in vocabulary.

In fact, in the Practical Book of Indonesian Language Volume 2 Second Edition (2007) published by the Language Center (now the Language Development and Development Agency) it is noted that there are differences in the meaning of the three expressions.

  1. The expression “and so on” (etc.) is used in details that are similar in form. For example: Prizes up for grabs in the competition are television, radio, camera, etc.
  2. The expression “and others” (etc.) is used in various or different details. For example: The thick smoke comes from burning forests, also from motor vehicles, factory chimneys, etc.
  3. The expression “and so on” (etc.) is used in tiered or continuous details in succession. For example: All students are asked to study Indonesian books from Chapters I, II, III, etc.

Meanwhile, in the Big Indonesian Language Dictionary (KBBI) Edition V (2020), the three expressions are noted to have meanings that are in line with the principles contained in the Practical Indonesian Language Book. In the KBBI, the expression “and so on” (etc.) is stated as an expression used to express further details of a similar form; the expression “and so on” (etc.) is expressed as an expression to express sequential or continuous details; and the expression “and others” (etc.) is expressed as an expression expressing various details.

In addition to expressions etc., etc., and etc., in various speeches, you may often hear the use of the expression “and so on”. The expression “and so on” is not listed in the General Guidelines for Indonesian Spelling (PUEBI) and the KBBI. The expression “and so on” is not recommended to be used in official communication because the expression is ambiguous and is a combination of “and others” with “and so on”. If the expression “and others” is agreed upon to express various details and the expression “and so on” is used to express similar details, then the combination of the two becomes a juxtapositional expression and has contradictory meanings.

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Problems Distinguishing “Etc..” and “Etc.”

Differentiated use of “etc.” with others is quite easy because of its distinctive function in detailing sequences only. However, the distinction between “etc.” and “etc.” rather difficult to do and if not careful can be subjective. The expression “etc.” indeed its function is to specify the same type, while “etc.” to detail the various. However, similar and dissimilar is highly dependent on the context surrounding the description. For example, you can group horses, tigers, lions, giraffes, elephants, etc. in the context of the animals you see at the zoo. Meanwhile, in other contexts, for example the types of meat-eating animals, apart from tigers and lions, cannot be described by “etc.”. Therefore, in distinguishing “etc.” with “etc.” Care must be taken in understanding the context of the description to be expressed.

Writing Problem

In the General Guidelines for Indonesian Spelling (PUEBI), expressions etc., etc., and etc. must be written with a period (.) at the end because it is a general abbreviation consisting of three or more letters. However, these guidelines do not explain how to use the closing period for this abbreviation if it is followed by other punctuation marks. Ivan Lanin, an Indonesian language activist, in one of his website articles, expressed his opinion regarding this problem.

“In my opinion, if the punctuation that follows is also a period (at the end of a regular sentence), only one full stop is used. On the other hand, if there are other punctuation marks following the closing period (question mark, exclamation mark, colon, etc.), the period and other punctuation marks are written sequentially.”

When viewed from the aspect of the effectiveness of writing terms, Ivan’s opinion can provide an alternative in writing expressions etc., etc., and so on. So far, the rules have not been compiled more comprehensively in the existing guidelines.

Other Questions

Talking about linguistic rules, especially Indonesian language, will always form a new discussion space among the guidelines that seem stuttering in keeping pace with language development over time. Regarding the use of the expressions “etc.”, “etc.”, and “etc.” Even though it looks simple, there are still gaps in the emergence of problems in its application. Another perhaps more basic question: how urgent is it for us to use those abbreviations in detail? It’s possible that the phrase exists only because we are lazy to write or reveal the entire contents of the details.