The difference between e.g. and i.e.

I think I have often confused these so if you didn’t know, now you do!

The Latin abbreviations e.g. and i.e. are used extensively in English. Not everyone, however, is aware of the difference in their usage. Some people use them interchangeably. Others even invert their meaning. If you are not completely sure when to use each of those abbreviations, keep reading!

e.g. stands for the Latin phrase “exempli gratia,” which means “for the sake of example.” You should use it when presenting examples or more possibilities for the term in question. An easy way to remember this is to associate e.g. with “example given.”

I like citrus fruits (e.g., oranges and lemons)

i.e. Stands for the Latin phrase “id est,” which means “that is.” You should use it when explaining or rephrasing a sentence. Usually it has the same meaning as “in other words.”

I like all fruits (i.e., I eat pretty much anything)

3 Responses

  1. Well, I knew one of ’em meant “that is” but could never keep it straight. Glad you explained the difference -e.g. (your explanation is a good one.) which there kind of turns it around and into an I.E. thing, doesn’t it? Whoa! Now I am getting confused all over again. Doggone senility issues!

  2. Wow! Now THAT was a useful post! I rarely use i.e. but at least now I know how it’s meant to be used!

  3. Wonderful. And there’s QED, which lots of kids in math class thought was Quite Easily Done, but which is actually Latin – Quad Erat Demonstratum

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