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Possessive with "et. al."
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Can anyone tell me which is correct when indicating possessive:

..Smith's, et. al. study...

or

...Smith, et.al.'s study...
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Location: Egypt
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If I HAD to use this construction, I'd write

Smith et al.'s study ....

There is no period on et because it is not an abbreviation. Only al. is an abbreviation here. I don't think there should be a comma after Smith either, but some style manuals may disagree.

But that construction is really ugly. Better to recast the sentence:

In their 1999 study, Smith et al. discuss...
In their study, Smith et al. (1999) found that...
The study of Smith et al. looked at...
A study by Smith et al. ...

etc. etc.


Okaasan, Co-Moderator
(A native-speaking American with a Japanese nickname, living in Egypt)
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Location: Connecticut, USA
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quote:
But that construction is really ugly.
I agree!
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quote:
In their 1999 study, Smith et al. discuss...
In their study, Smith et al. (1999) found that...
The study of Smith et al. looked at...
A study by Smith et al. ...

I have a question. These sentences are fine, I know. They would all certainly be used as the first reference to a work.

What about subsequent references? Would we say/write each time 'Smith et al.' or would we just use 'Smith' in the subsequent references?
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What about subsequent references? Would we say/write each time 'Smith et al.' or would we just use 'Smith' in the subsequent references?

I did a bit of research in a number of my papers and found two examples in which the name was stated with "et al." for the second time. In most cases, however, the pronoun "they" was used - a more preferable choice.

And, interestingly, I found an instance of "et al.'s":

Adapted from Dulay et al.’s (1982) taxonomy of learner errors [...]

I agree this is ugly, but I think I have seen it a few times.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Mehrdad, Contributor,
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Location: Egypt
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What about subsequent references? Would we say/write each time 'Smith et al.' or would we just use 'Smith' in the subsequent references?


You have to say "Smith et al." each time to give credit to the others who wrote the paper. There is also the possibility, of course, that there is another paper written just by Smith cited in the same text.


quote:
And, interestingly, I found an instance of "et al.'s":

Adapted from Dulay et al.’s (1982) taxonomy of learner errors [...]

I agree this is ugly, but I think I have seen it a few times.


Yeah, technical writing can be pretty ugly sometimes. (And how's that for an oxymoron to start your day?)


Okaasan, Co-Moderator
(A native-speaking American with a Japanese nickname, living in Egypt)
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