‘Et alia,’ arguably similar to ‘et cetera,’ means ‘and others.’ It is used to shorten a list of people or objects. ‘Et al’ is most commonly used in an academic context.
‘Et alia’ is a Latin term which literally means, as above, ‘and others.’ ‘Et alii’ is the masculine version of this term and ‘et aliae’ the feminine. For example, if your list consists of all males, technically speaking, you would be more likely to use the former, and females the latter. However, it is very rare to see this in use; the term is usually abbreviated to simply ‘et al.’ It first came into use as part of the English language in 1883.
‘Et al’ is not to be confused with ‘inter alia,’ a Latin term meaning ‘amongst other things.’ It is also not to be confused with ‘et cetera,’ although the terms may be construed as similar. See here for our Latin lesson on ‘et cetera.’
Some sources, such as MLA Guidelines, state that it is only acceptable for use when the list consists of a minimum of three people or items. ‘Et alia’ is usually written as the more common abbreviation ‘et al.’ Examples of use in a sentence are as follows.
‘Bob Bobbedo et al. state that Latin is good for you.’
‘Trent Strawberry et al. have pretty weird sounding names.’
As always, make sure you think clearly about what the term actually means in English before you use it.