I am writing a scientific paper. In this context, it is usual to cite other works with the last name of the first author followed by "et al." when there are many. If I want to use a possessive form, how should I use the Saxon genitive?

For example, is "Smith's et al." correct?

1 Answer 1


First of all, et al. should be in italics. That said, the common way to refer to a publication like that would be:

Smith and coworkers'...


Smith and colleagues'

Et al. means and others, it is an abbreviation of the latin et alii. If you really really wanted to use it in the possessive, you would write

Smith et al's

but don't do that, it is ugly and unclear. Paraphrase, use and coworkers or similar constructs.

  • Shouldn't it be Smith and coworkers'? Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 17:36
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    What about the dot? Smith et al.'s ?
    – user54604
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 17:38
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    'Coworkers' strikes me as rather dumbed-down English to use in such circumstances, especially with a Latin phrase. (How much milk might they have produced?) It is not much used at all in Britain. What is wrong with 'colleagues'?
    – WS2
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 20:20
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    @TaliaFord: You seem to be saying that unidentified authors are neuter rather than masculine. If so, I don't think you're right either in Latin or English. Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 22:06
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    @TaliaFord so you're saying that I should change what abbreviations stand for to better fit the times? Perhaps but I find that strange, an abbreviation has a specific meaning, I would not consider it correct to adapt that. Would you also correct hoi polloi to ta polla to make it neuter? Greek of course uses the male and not the neuter when the sex in unknown so this might not be the best example, did Latin really use the neuter?
    – terdon
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 22:45

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