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October 18, 2012: i.e. and e.g. - What's the Difference?

difference between i.e. and e.g.

The Latin terms i.e. and e.g. are commonly used in English writing. However, their correct use is much less common. Some writers use the terms interchangeably while others incorrectly use the other term. In fact, i.e. and e.g. have different meanings, and thus, the terms are utilized in distinct situations. Let's take a closer look.

e.g. is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase exempli gratia which means "as an example." Use e.g. when you are listing examples or providing specification. Usually, it has the same meaning as "including."

Sample Sentence:
I enjoy playing racquet sports (e.g., tennis, raquetball, badminton, squash).

i.e. is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase id est which means "that is." Use i.e. when rephrasing a sentence. Usually, it has the same meaning as "in other words."

Sample Sentence:
I am neither Republican nor Democrat (i.e., I will vote for the best candidate).

Additional Rules:

1. Do not capitalize i.e. or e.g. even when the terms initiate the beginning of a sentence.
2. Separate the letters of both terms with a period.
3. Follow the abbreviation with a comma.

Remembering the Difference:

To help recall the difference between i.e. and e.g. when a source is not available, use the mnemonic "example given" for e.g. It's that easy!

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