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When writing lists, it's sometimes the case in which the list is left non-terminated, using expressions like et cetera, eccetera or an ellipsis (...).

Consider the following examples

Comma + ellipsis

rosso, blu, verde, ...

Ellipsis only

rosso, blu, verde ...

Eccetera + ellipsis

rosso, blu, verde, eccetera ...

Eccetera + comma + ellipsis

rosso, blu, verde, eccetera, ...

Eccetera + period

rosso, blu, verde, eccetera.

Is there a preferred and possibly most correct way of expressing such construct?

Is any of the previous combinations plain wrong?

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Although sometimes you do see eccetera (or etc) followed by ellipsis, in my opinion it cannot be correct. "eccetera" comes from latin "et cetera", literally "and other things"; since you already stated that the list would continue with "other things", there's nothing to be replaced by the ellipsis. Also, someone here who did some research in literary texts states that he found no mention of "etc..." & co.

The other forms are all used, but personally I prefer the first and the last; the second doesn't really feel right, because you are not omitting the end of the last element of the list, but all the elements after it, but probably it's my programmer's OCD kicking in.

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  • +1 for discouraging "eccetera" followed by ellipsis. I would also avoid comma followed by "eccetera", since I've been taught not to use comma+conjunction ("verde, et cetera" in this case) whenever not necessary (which is accepted for stressing something out though). – fabio Nov 15 '13 at 10:57
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Comma + ellipsis, right.

Ellipsis only, acceptable.

Eccetera + ellipsis, wrong.

Eccetera + comma + ellipsis, wrong and unacceptable.

Eccetera + period, acceptable, but "ecc.", rather than "eccetera + period", is preferable.

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  • 1
    Thank you. Would you also mind providing some extra references to grammar rules? – Gabriele Petronella Nov 11 '13 at 21:10
  • Yes, I will try finding references, but I don't think "grammar rules" are involved here, though. – Kyriakos Kyritsis Nov 11 '13 at 21:14
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The ones I use are comma + ellipsis, and comma + eccettera. What follows is the punctuation I would normally use: If it's the end of a sentence, I would use the period; if I am writing two connected sentences, I would use the semicolon.

Ho fatto le solite cose: alzarmi, fare colazione, vestirmi, rifare il letto, eccetera.

Sometimes, for emphasis, I would write eccettera, eccetera, eccetera instead of eccettera. Most of the times, when I do this, I am probably answering a question that bothered me, as when a person asks me the same question all the times, hoping I say something s/he doesn't like.

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Comma + ellipsis is used mainly for listing the numbers (as you would do in mathematics: 1,2,3,...). Still, there should be no space between comma and ellipsis.
Ellipsis only is used for listing the words (see the grammar examples here or here or here).
Eccetera means that the list is being continued, hence it could not use additional comma or ellipsis. The only right combination with eccetera is the last one, and even in this case it's commonly cut down to ecc.

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