When do you use, i.e. and e.g.?

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All languages have a complex set of rules and of course exception to those rules. The English language is no exception. Among other things, there is often a confusion between i.e. and e.g. This can be resolved by knowing the difference between i.e. and e.g. which may look similar but have distinct meanings. The abbreviations i.e and e.g are commonly used Latin abbreviations in the English language and as such are not put in italics. They usually occur in the middle of a sentence and are not used with capitals either.

All languages have a complex set of rules and of course exception to those rules. The English language is no exception. Among other things, there is often a confusion between i.e. and e.g. This can be resolved by knowing the difference between i.e. and e.g. which may look similar but have distinct meanings. The abbreviations i.e and e.g are commonly used Latin abbreviations in the English language and as such are not put in italics. They usually occur in the middle of a sentence and are not used with capitals either.

What is the meaning of the abbreviation i.e.?

The abbreviation i.e. is the short form of the Latin words “id est” which means “that is to say”. The other equivalent phrases in English could include “in other words” or “that is” “that is to say” or “put another way”. It is used to specify or clarify something that has just been uttered or written as in the example- Jane is not at home, i.e. she has gone down town for shopping.

What is the meaning of the abbreviation e.g. ?

The abbreviation e.g. is the short form of the latin words “exempli glatia” which means “for example”. It is used in statements backed up by examples when only a few things may be listed out as in- Many animals, e.g. elephants, tigers are considered endangered species.

How to use e.g and i.e in a sentence?

  • e.g and i.e are abbreviations and should be used with a period after each letter.
  • A comma is used after e.g and i.e
  • e.g and i.e can be used at the beginning of a sentence.
  • When used in the middle of a sentence, remember to use a comma before and after the use of these abbreviations

What are some examples of i.e.?

  • Mary’s going to join the profession that she likes best, i.e., teaching.

(There is only one profession that Mary likes best. After using “i.e. Mary specifies the particular profession)

  • The most hardworking person in my house, i.e., my mother, is going on a vacation for a month.

(The use of i.e. in the above sentence makes clear that there is no other contender for that description)

What are some examples of e.g.?

  1. There were all kinds of fruits in the basket, e.g., apricots, strawberries, apples among others.
  2. At the shop that I like best, e.g. “The crescent”, I usually get whatever I need.

(There are many shops but “The Crescent” is the only “example” which suits me the best.)

 

It is not difficult to know the difference between i.e. and e.g. and use them appropriately in sentences. But if you are still confused about which to use while speaking or writing then a simple trick would be to remember e.g. as short for “example given” and i.e. as short for “in effect”. So once you know what the Latin abbreviations i.e. and e.g. stand for, the difference between i.e. and e.g. would become clearer and easy to use in speech and writing.



 

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