“Et al.” requires either a singular or plural verb depending on how many authors there are or if you’re referring solely to a cited work. The only time this comes up is in sourcing a particular piece of writing such as a study, research paper, or other such scholarly article.
People use this in writing to deter writing ambiguity since it allows for more specifics. However, for scientific journals, scholarly articles or other professional publications, expect to use a plural verb even if only one author is responsible for the document.
What Is “Et Al.”?
As an abbreviation, “et al.” means “and others.” It comes from the Latin for “et alia.” In this language, there are three forms: alia (masculine plural), “aliae” (feminine plural) and “alii” (neuter plural). So, while “et al.” is technically plural, the English adoption of it changes slightly.
Therefore, when you use it to list sources for articles, documents and other pertinent information, the use of a plural or singular verb will depend.
Using the Singular
When there is only one author listed or you want to cite the document, you will use a singular verb with “et al.” But, it’s crucial to understand that it’s not often for professional writings to include a singular verb for “et al.” even if there’s only one author. To cite a work in the singular it will look something like:
A 2014 document by Sturgeon et al. illustrates how crime has risen 150% since 1977.
Bryce et al.’s 2010 study suggests that cats may come from an alien source.
You may notice in the second example that there’s an apostrophe (‘) to indicate ownership. You will always put the apostrophe after the period (.).
Using the Plural
In the event a paper, book or other scholarly article has more than one author, a plural verb will be necessary. However, professional editors and publishers usually require “et al.” to accompany a plural verb.
Samson, Carlin and et al. indicate how severe temperature shifts can create disease in trees.
Mayer et al. found the results to be inconclusive and not reliable.
While you can use a singular or plural verb to qualify “et al.,” it’s generally acceptable to indicate a plural verb. However, it is allowable to use a singular verb when only one author is responsible.