10 Latin abbreviations you might be misusing

N.B.: Be careful when writing et al., fl., re, etc., particularly one oft-confused pair, viz. i.e. vs. e.g.

Abbreviations deriving from Latin terms and phrases can be troublesome for us non-Latin speakers. Here’s the long and short of the most common short forms adopted into English from the classical language:

1. e.g.

This abbreviation of exempli gratia (“for example”) is not only often left bereft of its periods (or styled eg.), it’s also frequently confused for a similar abbreviation you’ll find below. Use e.g. (followed by a comma) to signal sample examples.

2. etc.

This sloppily formed abbreviation of et cetera (“and so forth”) is often misspelled ect., perhaps because we’re accustomed to words in which c precedes t, but not vice versa. (Curiously, Merriam-Webster spells out etcetera as such as a noun, but at the end of an incomplete list, retain the two-word form, or translate it.) A comma should precede it.

Refrain from using etc. in an e.g. list; the abbreviations are essentially redundant, and note that etc. is also redundant in a phrase that includes including.

3. et al.

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