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I.e. versus e.g.

‘I.e.’ and ‘e.g.’ are both abbreviations, but they have different meanings. People commonly use them both freely, but you should really know the difference between them so that you know when to use each one.

‘I.e.’ stands for the Latin words ‘id est’, which can have the following meanings:

In other words

That is

When you write ‘i.e.’ in a sentence, what comes after it should be a rewording or explanation of the stuff before it - you’re giving an explanation ‘in other words’:

The security guards will work both shifts (i.e., the day shift and the night shift) for the next week.

The part in the brackets following the ‘i.e.’ is a rewording of the part of the sentence before it. It’s more explicitly telling the reader what working both shifts actually means.

‘E.g.’, on the other hand stands for the Latin words ‘exempli gratia’, which mean ‘for example’ in our language. So you use e.g. when you want to tell the reader that you’re going to give some examples of what you’re talking about. Notice the ‘some’ - what you’re providing isn’t meant to be a complete list of every possible thing, just one or a few. For instance:

Many people were disappointed by the discovery of larger meat eaters than Tyrannosaurus Rex (e.g., Giganotosaurus).

This sentence is talking about how larger dinosaurs than T-Rex have been discovered, and people’s reactions to this. ‘E.g.’ is used in this sentence to give some examples of what the sentence is talking about. In this case, it’s an example of a dinosaur that has been discovered that is larger than T-Rex.

‘E.g.’ tells the reader that all you’re doing is providing some examples, but not a complete list. This means that there is no need to whack an ‘etc.’ at the end of a statement after an ‘e.g.’

Usually, ‘e.g.’ and ‘i.e.’ are found inside brackets in normal writing. They’re also usually followed by a comma, which can be a little tricky, since you then have a period immediately followed by a comma. This is OK.

One way you can avoid using ‘e.g.’ and ‘i.e.’, and any possible confusion over them, is to use English words instead. So use ‘that is’ rather than ‘i.e.’ and ‘for example’ rather than ‘e.g.’