Et al is an abbreviation that comes straight from the Latin phrase et alia, which simply means “and others.” This term is usually used in academic writing, like in bibliographies and footnotes, where there are several authors but it would be too lengthy to list them all.
While it’s most frequently used to talk about people, you might see et al used to describe other things too. It’s not just an abbreviation for et alia (which is gender-neutral), but it can also be shortened from et alii (masculine) or et aliae (feminine).
You’re likely to see this term written with a period at the end, like et al. This is because it’s an abbreviation, so the period represents the missing letters.
Example for using ‘Et Al’ in a conversation
Hey, have you seen the latest research paper on climate change?
Yes, I have! It was written by Smith, Johnson, et al.
Oh, so it means there were more authors apart from Smith and Johnson?
Exactly! ‘Et al’ is used to avoid listing all the authors when there are too many.
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