i.e. or e.g.?

19 Aug

I can’t honestly say that I’ve come across e.g. and i.e. being confused very much in my experience, but I’ve been asked by a couple of people to cover this one and I can but serve …

Both of these come from the Latin, and both are useful ways to say something in a short space (and one word, if you’re worried about word-counts!) although they tend to make the text look messy if they’re used too often, in my opinion.

First of all, e.g. – this abbreviation stands for “for example”, is used to introduce an example of whatever you’ve just been discussing, and comes from the Latin “exempli gratia”.  Bonus fact: don’t put it in italics and put a comma before but not after. “There are many power tools that can be used, e.g. drills, sanders and grinders.”

And i.e. means “that is” and again comes from the Latin; “id est”.  You use it if you want to explain what you’ve just said (rather than exemplify it). Another bonus fact – just like e.g., don’t put it in italics and put a comma before, but not after. “This project requires the use of power tools, i.e. those that require electricity to operate them.”

I would construct a sentence here containing both, but I don’t think it would look pretty and it certainly wouldn’t be recommended practice …

You can find more troublesome pairs here.


Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


Tags: , , ,

6 responses to “i.e. or e.g.?

  1. Julia

    August 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    “I would construct a sentence here …” why not, “I could…” – I suspect the answer is it doesn’t matter, but just curious…


  2. Liz at Libro

    August 19, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Yup – doesn’t really matter except what I meant was connected to “I will do it” rather than “I can do it”, I suppose …
    Nice to know people are reading the posts, anyway!


  3. HElen

    August 20, 2011 at 9:21 am

    THanks for explaining, this is a pair i was always curious abouit!


  4. Chandra Dev

    August 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    You have explained very well.



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