Et al vs. Et als vs. Et al’s – Which is Correct?

“Et al” is the correct spelling and is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase et alia meaning “and others”. Whilst you can use et al’s in certain situations, it cannot be pluralized by adding “-s” since it is already a plural noun.

Et al is relatively common in formal writing but you may see it written as “et als” or even “et al’s”. So, which is correct and when should you use it?

Let’s take a closer look at how to use this Latin abbreviation and when you can add an “ ‘s ” without it being grammatically incorrect. Once you’ve mastered this skill, you’ll be ready to use it with ease.

What Does “Et Al” Mean and When Should I Use It?

“Et al” is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase “et alia”, meaning “and others”.  Et al is used in formal writing to simplify language and impart complex phrases with just a few letters. However, it’s never used in spoken language.

Et al is commonly used in research papers when citing the authors of a particular study. Studies often have numerous authors, so it can be tedious and difficult for readers to go through a long list of names while reading a passage. 

Et al allows the writer to cite the main researcher as well as all other credited authors.

You’ll likely see it written in a sentence like this:


•    “The article was written by Wright, Jones, Smith, et al.”


Rather than listing all of the authors’ names, we can simplify it by just putting “et al”.

Can I Write “Et Als”?

The direct translation from Latin into English means “and others”. As it’s already plural, don’t make the mistake of adding an “-s”.

Is “Et Al’s” Grammatically Correct?

We sometimes see “et al’s” written in research papers. Depending on the context, this is grammatically correct and can be used when we’re using it as a possessive pronoun. 

For example, this would be correct:


•“Wright, Jones, Smith, et al’s research sheds light on the issue.”


In this example, adding an apostrophe -s is correct because it shows that they own the research. It’s possessive.

Conclusion

The only correct form of et al is “et al”. It is an abbreviation of a Latin phrase that acts as a plural noun. Therefore, we cannot pluralize something that’s already plural. If we want to use et al possessively though, we can add an apostrophe -s without it being grammatically incorrect.

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About Gemma Wright

I'm Gemma Wright, co-owner of ProCopyTips and a freelance PR consultant and copywriter. Having worked as a PR Manager for large financial services companies in the UK, I now focus on helping small and growing businesses to thrive through the power of effective communications.

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