Please define or explain the term "et al."

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The abbreviation “et al.” is typically used in bibliographies and other citations of the sources that a writer uses when writing a paper.  It comes from the Latin phrase “et alia.”  This Latin phrase means “and others.”

This abbreviation is typically used when citing a work that has more than one author.   According to MLA guidelines, it is properly used when the work that is being cited has more than three authors.  In such a case, one puts the last name of the first author, followed by “et al.” 

It is important to note that it is proper to put a period after “al” to show that it is short for “alia.”  However, “et” is a whole word and should not be followed by a period.

mturtle227's profile pic

mturtle227 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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and others... or and all

You use it in a list (mainly authors), for example


John ben
Harry potter
harry styles

one direction  

et al.