Today’s Writing Tip Is When to Use ie. and e.g.

Many people are unsure about when to use the abbreviation i.e. and when to use e.g. First, let’s look at what these abbreviations stand for.

Contrary to popular belief, the initials i.e. do not stand for Internet Explorer! They stand for “id est,” which is Latin for “that is to say” or “in other words.” E.g. means “for example” or” such as.” Its Latin derivative is “exempli gratia.” (If you want to abbreviate Internet Explorer, use the capital letters IE.)

Using these in a sentence, we would say, Darren has a strong background in science (i.e., he has studied physics and chemistry.) Or Darren has an extensive vocabulary (e.g., he can think of 25 different synonyms for awesome or amazing.)

Note that you always want to insert periods with i.e. and e.g. and then to use a comma afterwards.

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4 thoughts on “Today’s Writing Tip Is When to Use ie. and e.g.”

  1. Thanks, Catherine. What I should have added was that often these can be used interchangeably. Both of my sentence examples would work with either i.e. or e.g. But sometimes we have to choose one or the other because it doesn’t make any sense to say that is or for example.

    “Some people have said that Jim Morrison had reactive attachment disorder — i.e., the inability to form a loving relationship with anyone, probably stemming from childhood abuse or neglect.”

    In that instance, you wouldn’t want to use e.g. because what follows is not an example.

  2. Catherine,

    You took the words right out of my mouth! One easy way to remember how to use i.e. is to know that it is a clarification.

    For example, let’s take this sentence:

    Christopher is my nephew (i.e., he is my brother’s son.). In that case, you could never use e.g. because i.e. is an *explanation* or *clarification* of the first part of the sentence.

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