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Ask Jodi: How do I use i.e. and e.g.?

Dear Jodi,

 Is there a difference between “i.e.” and “e.g.” and how do I use them in my writing?

Stephanie the Scribe

 

Dear Stephanie,
Thanks for the question. The abbreviations “i.e.” and “e.g.” are similar and easily confused but not too tricky for a young scholar like you.

First:  i.e.

This stands for “id est” which is Latin for “that is.” So i.e. is used to further clarify something you’ve stated.

“There is one place where I can work in peace, i.e., the Writers Junction.”

In this example, there are not several places that the writer might offer to illustrate her point; there is only one; that is, the Writers Junction.

“I’m very particular about laptop keyboards and will use only the best for typing ease, i.e., SONY and Asus.”

In this example, there are only two kinds of keyboards that the writer will use, and she names both to clarify her point.

Second: e.g.

This stands for “exempli gratia” which means “for example.”  Use this abbreviation when you’re going to list one or more supporting examples from a possible list of many.

 

“There are several libraries where I can work in peace, e.g., the main library in Redondo Beach and the Powell Library at UCLA.”

Of many possible examples, only two are offered.

 

“My latest sugar fixations involve dark chocolate, e.g., dark-chocolate peanut M&M’s and dark-chocolate covered graham crackers.”

There are many dark chocolate options that the writer likes, but only two are offered as examples.

Most style books advise that you use a comma after i.e. or e.g. when used as in the examples above.

One Response to “Ask Jodi: How do I use i.e. and e.g.?”

  1. JoJo McShanny says:

    Great question!

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