ie or eg example

The Difference between e.g. and i.e.

The abbreviations e.g. (from the Latin exempli gratia) and i.e. (from the Latin id est) are often confused. This confusion arises because they are both used to clarify something previously mentioned. However, they are not the same.

e.g.

The abbreviation e.g. is used to provide an example:

Examples with e.g.:
  • The buffet provided excellent variety, e.g., vegetarian and non-vegetarian soups, Italian and French breads, and numerous sweets.
  • (e.g. = for example)
  • He was the school champion of many activities (e.g., chess, badminton, 110m hurdles, and high jump).
  • (e.g. = for example)

i.e.

The abbreviation i.e. is used to restate an idea more clearly or to offer more information. (It can usually be substituted with "in other words.")

Examples with i.e.:
  • It happened in August, i.e., two months ago.
  • (i.e. = in other words)
  • It happened in August, e.g., two months ago.
  • (Remember that e.g. means for example.)
  • Service charge is included in all prices; i.e., you are not expected to leave a tip.
  • (i.e. = in other words)

Getting Them Wrong

If you mix up e.g. and i.e., your sentence might still be grammatically correct. However, the mix up will change the meaning of your sentence. Look at these two examples:
  • All amphibians are thriving in the new pond; e.g., the two bullfrogs were being very active yesterday.
  • (This sentence is fine grammatically. From it, we infer that there are more amphibians than two bullfrogs in the pond.)
  • All amphibians are thriving in the new pond; i.e., the two bullfrogs were being very active yesterday.
  • (This sentence is fine grammatically. We infer that the only amphibians in the pond are the two bullfrogs.)

A Quick Test

Remembering e.g. and i.e.

This may assist in remembering:
  • e.g. = "example given"
  • i.e. = "in effect"

Formatting e.g. and i.e.

There are four common formats with e.g. and i.e.

(1) Comma before e.g. or i.e.
  • He directs a variety of genres, e.g., crime, disaster, drama, fantasy.
  • (Note: If you use a comma before, then the text that follows should not be a standalone sentence. Joining two sentences with a comma is an error known as a run-on sentence. You can avoid a run-on sentence by using a semicolon or starting a new sentence.)
(2) Semicolon before e.g. or i.e.
  • He directs a variety of genres; e.g., he directs crime, disaster, drama, and fantasy.
  • (Note: A semicolon is appropriate when the text that follows is a standalone sentence.)
(3) Brackets with e.g. or i.e.
  • He directs a variety of genres (e.g., crime, disaster, drama, fantasy).
(4) A new sentence with e.g. or i.e.
  • He directs a variety of genres. E.g., he directs crime, disaster, drama and fantasy.

The Comma after e.g. or i.e.

In the US, it is usual to follow e.g. or i.e. with a comma. It is less common in the UK. There is leniency in all conventions. The golden rule is be consistent.

e.g./i.e. or eg/ie?

It is usual to see full stops (periods) with e.g. and i.e. However, you can write them without. The golden rule is be consistent.

Don't Use "etc." after e.g.

It is inappropriate to use etc. after e.g. since it is understood that you are only offering a partial list by way of example. For example:
  • Mark needs gloves to handle live fishing bait (e.g., rag worm, lug worm, crab, etc.).
  • (The use of e.g. is correct, but the use of etc. is unnecessary.)