In this new feature, we'll be sharing some of the most common grammar, syntax and spelling issues we see in editorial and promotional writing. Have one that really drives you crazy? Submit it so we can write about it!!
The abbreviations i.e. and e.g. are frequently misused in writing. The key to learning proper usage is understanding what each one means and then remembering which one to use. Here are the “how” and “when” to use these abbreviations properly:
I.e. is an abbreviation of the Latin words id est, which mean "that is." E.g. is an abbreviation for the Latin words exempli gratia, which mean "for example."
Since most of us don’t practice our Latin everyday, (well, at least I don’t) I’ll share with you how I remember the difference between the two: i.e. starts with “i” and means “in other words,” e.g. starts with “e” and means “for example.”
Now, let’s use them in a sentence.
I am looking forward to eating my favorite foods at Thanksgiving, i.e., turkey and mashed potatoes.
In this sentence, I used i.e. to help clarify which foods are my favorite and because I used i.e., you know that the two that I listed are the only ones that I consider to be my favorite.
Remember “i” = “in other words” or “in essence.” I.e. is used as a way to further explain what you just said. You can use a definition or a metaphor to specify.
I love Thanksgiving because of all the delicious foods that are served, e.g., turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole.
I used e.g., so this means that those dishes are among all the foods that are enjoyed at Thanksgiving, and not the only foods. E.g. works like, “including.”
Use e.g. when you are not using a finite list. A fun way to remember is that e.g. means “Egg sample.”
How to punctuate: According to most style guides, using a comma after i.e. or e.g. is recommended. These abbreviations can also be used to introduce a parenthetical statement.