The truth is, even many native English speakers mess up their abbreviations, and etcetera is no exception.

We use the abbreviation etc. to mean “and the rest” from the Latin et cetera.

Here are some wrong examples of the use of the word etc.:

  • She loves water sports, fishing, diving etc but doesn’t like to snorkel.
  • The child loves to read, draw, paint, play, etc..
  • Nate excelled at all sports, for example soccer, tennis, basketball, etc.

Here are the rules:

When using the abbreviation etc., we separate it from the last item in the list with a comma.
Etc. always ends with a period.
If etc. is the last word in a sentence, as it often is, do not add a double period.
It is also wrong to use etc. when describing an example (“for example,” or “including”) – once you have stated that the items in the list are a sampling of all the possibilities, it is obvious that there are more items that could be included.

Here are some examples of etc. used correctly:

  • Nizan packed clothes, blankets, toiletries, etc. while Jean was responsible for preparing the food.
  • Danny loved candy, gum, cookies, etc. He ate way too many sweets.
  • Lucy loved green vegetables, including spinach, asparagus, broccoli and artichokes.
    (Note that there was no need to add “etc.” to this list, because “including” already lets the reader know that there are more items in the list.)

All by myself

It’s tricky to know when to say myself in English.
In general, do not use myself to replace me or I.
Myself should be used either as a reflexive word (hitpael) or as an intensifier.
Examples of using myself as a reflexive word:
• I bought myself a new watch.
• I gave myself a pat on the back.
Examples of using myself as an intensifier:
• I ate it all myself.
• I couldn’t do it all myself, so I asked a friend for help.
• I myself don’t like turkey.
Wrong use of myself:
• Tsachi and myself sit in the same cubicle.
• Dror went to lunch with Ofer and myself.

Can I or May I?

This week I read a lot of documents that incorrectly used the phrase “the customer may.”

Can means to be able to. May means to have permission to.

When we talk about enabling the customer to do something, or different features available to the customer, we are talking about things that he is ABLE to do. Things the customer can or cannot do.

Whereas when we talk about things our parents/teachers/employers do and don’t allow us to do, we’re talking about PERMISSION.

Things the child/student/employee may or may not do.

Here are some examples:

  • Subscriber may can configure the service to ring on a single device
  • User-authentication information may can be stored externally

 May should be used only when talking about permission:

  • Mom, may I stay out late?
  • Avner decided that you may attend the conference in Hawaii.