Do you struggle to understand Latin abbreviations? Maybe you hadn’t even realised they came from Latin.

Nowadays there are only a handful of Latin abbreviations that are used regularly in English. In less than 5 minutes you can have them all at your fingertips.

A quick reminder on punctuation rules for Latin abbreviations
An abbreviation is usually followed by a full stop, this shows some of the letters have been removed.


Et cetera which translates as ‘and the rest’.
Use et cetera to continue a list of items in the same category.
For ex: We need to order some office supplies: papers, ink cartridges, pens, etc.

If etc. ends the sentence – as above – only one full stop is necessary.


Id est which translates as ‘that is’ and means ‘in other words’.
Use it to make something clearer, to give another definition.
For ex: I am writing a Latin post, i.e. I’m explaining Latin expressions to my readers.

Trick to remember it: think of it as standing for ‘in essence’ or ‘in effect’.


Exempli gratia which translates as ‘for example’.
Use it when you want to give specific examples.
For ex: I am writing about Latin abbreviations, e.g. nota bene, exempli gratia, et cetera and id est.

Trick to remember it: think of it as standing for ‘example given’

et al.

et alii/et alia which translates as ‘and others’.
Use it when you want to shorten a list of names.
For ex: Drs. Smith, Baker, Brown and Jacobson would be referred to as Smith et al.
Probably best kept for academic writing these days.

There is no full stop after ‘et’ as it’s a whole word that means ‘and’ in Latin


Nota bene which translates as ‘note well’.
When you want the reader to pay close attention to something.
N.B. The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author alone.

Nota bene is always abbreviated with capital letters, e.g. N.B.

Have you come across any other Latin abbreviations in your work that you had to look up? Please share with us in the comments below.

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