Many people need clarification about the functions of i.e. and e.g. in sentences. I know I have to Google the difference from time to time. Most people know that these abbreviations are used to enumerate or further explain something.
Both i.e. and e.g. are Latin abbreviations with different meanings. One means that is, while the other means for example.
Keep reading to learn the differences between i.e. and e.g so you never have to Google it! I’ll go over their uses, meanings, and examples in this guide.
What’s the Difference Between ‘i.e.’ and ‘e.g.’?
Some people might know the usage of i.e. and e.g in the English language. But their original phrases can be confusing because they are in a different language.
I.e. is the abbreviated form for the Latin term id est. In English, it means “that is to say” or more commonly “in other words.” This phrase is commonly found in formal writing and academic writing, although some modern colloquial English pieces also use it.
Here are some examples of i.e. in sentences.
- Studies show that social media campaigns lead to business growth (i.e., they experienced higher sales).
- My favorite songs from the album (i.e., Cardigan and The One) are part of the setlist.
What follows after i.e. (they experienced higher sales) in the first sentence clarifies the earlier statement, business growth.
The same can be observed in the second example. The English phrase “Cardigan and The One” clarifies the previous statement about my favorite songs from the album.
The equivalent Latin phrase of e.g. is exempli gratia. This customary abbreviation means “for the sake of example” or simply “for example.” Use it to introduce one or more examples in your statements or questions.
Here are some examples of e.g. in a complete sentence.
- I like card games (e.g., crazy eights and rummy).
- Mary gave me a list of business writing tips (e.g., know your audience, think like a reporter, and keep it tight) for my essay contest.
In the first example, crazy eights and rummy are possibly some of the many card games that the speaker likes.
The second example also shows some business writing tips Mary gave the speaker from the list. One should note that there could be more tips on the list.
Comparing ‘i.e.’ and ‘e.g.’
Now that you know the Latin origins and mnemonic devices of the standard abbreviations i.e. and e.g., let’s see how they compare in sentences. Read these two sentences.
- Some of my friends (i.e., Taylor and Ronan) are coming with me to the party.
- Some of my friends (e.g., Taylor or Ronan) are coming with me to the party.
In the first sentence, i.e. means Taylor and Ronan are the only friends coming with the speaker to the party. But in the second sentence, Taylor and Ronan could be two of the many friends coming to the party as they are only examples.
How to Use ‘i.e.’ and ‘e.g.’
Learning how to use i.e. and e.g. in business, academic, and scientific writings will help you produce more precise messages.
Generally, these standard abbreviations are used in lowercase when they appear in sentences.
The punctuation of abbreviations is also an essential consideration. Most American style guides use a period after both letters. The most common style choice is also the use of a comma after i.e. and e.g. For example:
- I’ll try to buy books, e.g., The Picture of Dorian Gray and A Room of One’s Own.
- After school, I’ll go to the new restaurant, i.e., Steak Village.
Using parentheses within the abbreviation and phrase is also the preferred style of the Chicago Manual of Style. We use these abbreviations for window parenthetical statements. For example:
- Please bring dessert tomorrow (e.g., ice cream, fruit salad, panna cotta).
- I am talented in three sports (i.e., tennis, basketball, and table tennis).
You don’t need to put e.g. and i.e. in italics when they are abbreviated. But the complete phrases exempli gratia and id est are always italicized.
‘I.e.’ and ‘e.g.’ in Action
Here are some published articles that use i.e. and e.g.
- The new emphasis on security is a key reason why COP27 made so little progress on what really matters for the fight against climate change—i.e., the need to reduce fossil fuel consumption and emissions of global warming gasses. [Washington Post]
- In addition, the draft regulations also prohibit the issuance of adult-use retail or on-site consumption sites on the same road or within 500 feet of school grounds, or a community facility (e.g., day care, public park, playground, public swimming pool, and library). [National Law Review]
How to Remember the Difference
A fun trick to remember the difference between i.e. and e.g. is to associate the “I” in i.e. with in other words. The “E” in e.g. stands for the common term example.
I.e. vs. E.g. Summary
Learning how to use e.g. and i.e. in scholarly writing gives your readers a better reading experience. They make word sets clearer, easier to memorize, and more concise.
Here are some memory tricks to remember when using these abbreviations:
- Use the correct abbreviation e.g. when giving examples.
- Use i.e. as a replacement for “in other words” in your statement.
- Most style guides require a comma after i.e. and e.g.
- Don’t italicize i.e. and e.g.
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