Question about "and so forth"

This is a very minor thing, but do any of you grammar Nazis know the correct way of ending a sentence with the abbreviation for “and so forth”? The abbreviation is, of course, “etc.”, ending with a period. However, at the end of a sentence does that period suffice to do the dual duty of terminating the abbreviation and simultaniously ending the sentence? Ending the sentence like this “blah blah blah blah etc…” with two periods looks silly. I’ve been avoiding this by using the full “and so forth” phrase as a sentence ender, but that seems long winded.

Please help with this longstanding void in my knowledge.

The period at the end of etc. is supplanted by the one that ends the sentence. From the Chicago Manual of Style:

“Etc.” is an abbreviation for et cetera, not for “and so forth”. They mean the same thing, of course - but there’s nothing preventing you from typing out et cetera in full. I usually italicize it in when I type it in full, though.

They don’t mean the same thing. “Et cetera” means “and other things of that kind”. “And so forth” means “and going forward similarly”. They are close in meaning, but I think it would read better to use “et cetera” after several nouns and “and so forth” after several verbs or gerunds.

If Wikipedia is to be trusted, the Latin literally translates to “and the rest (of such things).” This suggests to me that it might be appropriate to use “etc.” in situations where there is a complete set, but you’re not explicitly listing all the members of that set (the “etc” standing for the rest that you haven’t listed), while “and so forth” (or possibly “et al.”) could be used when the elements in your list continue indefinitely. But that seems needlessly pedantic, and it’s certainly not a distinction I’ve ever thought about making before now.

FWIW, as I understand it, Germans use “u.s.w.” (for “und so weiter”), which does literally mean “and so forth,” where we would use “etc.”

Yes, by coincidence, Wikipedia is correct–almost. “Cetera” means “all other things,” so “et cetera” means “and all other things.” In Latin usage, as opposed to its porting into English, it didn’t explicitly mean “and all the other things on the (implied) list.” Its meaning was closer to “and so forth,” as a matter of fact. (See “ceteris paribus,” “all other things being equal,” a phrase often used in contract law.)

In English, I think the current usage does make a distinction, in that “etc.” implies that the author could have given a complete list if he wanted to, but “and so forth” doesn’t imply that. A minor distinction, I know, but part of what makes English such a fascinating language is its ability to give those shades of meaning.

As a grammar Nazi, I do applaud the German use of usw., as it’s more exact; “weiter” is “further” or “continuing.” We ought to assimilate it into the English language the way we’ve done with so many other foreign words and terms.

I like the “Chicago Manual of Style” answer. I shall concern myself with this problem no more. Thanks to one and all.

For completeness, from the OED:

Ha! so it is OK to put a comma after it, then!

Seriously, I too have worried about the question asked by the OP. I am glad to have such a clear answer.

Another point is raised by Really Not All That Bright’s quote, however. Should one put a period or any other punctuation mark after a URL (or an email address), even when it would otherwise be grammatically (punctuationally?) appropriate? I worry about doing so, because some software tries to automatically convert URLs into links, but might not be smart enough to leave the final punctuation mark out, thus making the link fail. Even if the software does not do this itself, someone copying and pasting the link might also inadvertently include the punctuation mark. (I think URLs rarely, if ever, end in punctuation marks, except for slashes and question marks, but it is easy to overlook their presence in this sort of situation.) There used to be a convention, which solved this problem, of putting URLs (and email addresses) in angle brackets, but people do not seem to do that much any more. I have sometimes made a point of leaving a space between a URL I have included in some text and any punctuation mark that I want to write after it, but that looks a bit odd, perhaps. What do others think about this issue?

Just format it as you normally would and remove the link from the text if one is automatically created. In Word you click on the icon that looks like a chain link, and in WordPerfect it’s an icon that looks like a globe.

That does not solve the copy/paste problem, though, and Thunderbird, for one, only turns URLs into links as you send your email, not during the editing process. The SDMB software is much the same in this regard.

I regret what now seems like a meagre and misleading answer. Gotta love this board…

Question about "and so forth"

Agreed. Whilst not exactly synonyms, they are close in meaning.

“… and so forth.” is more usually used in spoken, as opposed to written, language, where ‘etc.’ is the norm.

And yes, you can use etc. in the middle of a sentence (with its attendant full stop [period]) and without having to capitalise the next letter.