Usage and Grammar

Q. I work for a software company catering to law firms. In a law firm’s name you might use “et al.” if the firm name is long. What is the proper way of doing so?

A. Here’s an example: for

Humboldt, Fitzsimmons, Joyce, Pasternak, and Chaliapin

you would write

Humboldt, Fitzsimmons, et al., is launching a new partnership with . . .


Humboldt et al. is launching a new partnership with . . .

The Latin “et al.” (et alia [neut.], et alii [masc.], or et aliae [fem.]) simply means “and others” and may be treated as its grammatical equivalent. Notice that I am employing a singular verb when talking about the firm (I am imagining a firm, rather than two or more attorneys)—though I can also imagine a preference for using the plural form of the verb.