Do you know the difference between i.e. and e.g.? If not, no need to stress. Most people assume these abbreviations are interchangeable -- but they actually stand for two different expressions.
Let’s add some clarity to what i.e. and e.g. stand for and how to use them correctly.
I.e. vs. E.g.
I.e. and e.g. are abbreviations for Latin terms. While similar, they are not interchangeable. I.e. stands for id est or "that is" -- and it's used to clarify a statement or word that came before it. E.g. means exempli gratia or "for example." It's used to introduce examples and illustrate a statement.
Both i.e. and e.g. are abbreviations for Latin expressions. While their usage is similar, they are used differently in sentences.
I.e. originates from the Latin id est -- and stands for “that is” or “in other words.” It clarifies or elaborates on the subject that comes before it. You can remember how to use i.e. by thinking “i for in other words.”
E.g. comes from the Latin exempli gratia which means, “for example.” When in doubt, think “e for example” -- and use e.g. in your sentence.
How to Use I.e. and E.g. (with Examples)
Now we know what i.e. and e.g. mean, let’s take a look at how to use them. Here are a few things to remember:
- Each letter in the abbreviation is followed by a period (i.e. and e.g.).
- If they’re at the beginning of a sentence, the first letter is capitalized (I.e. and E.g.).
- I.e. and e.g. don’t need to be italicized.
- When they’re in the middle of a sentence, or within parentheses, they are followed by a comma.
Here’s what i.e. looks like in action:
It was a pleasure meeting with you today. I’ll review the slides you sent for the sales team presentation and provide feedback shortly -- i.e., one to two business days.
In this example, i.e. was used to specify the amount of time “shortly” referred to: one to two business days.
Now, we’ll take a look at how to use e.g. in a sentence:
Thanks for exploring a potential partnership with me today. I’ve attached additional documents (e.g., resource #1, resource #2, and resource #3) providing more information about our premium plan pricing and the benefits it includes.
I look forward to discussing these resources in our next meeting on September 20th. Please let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.
Here, e.g. is used to list examples of information the sender of the email is providing to the prospect. It gives the audience a clearer idea of what to expect in the attachments.
Not sure if you’ve used the correct abbreviation? Here’s a fun trick: double-check your sentence and substitute the English phrase for the abbreviation. The examples below show what this looks like:
- “I’ll provide feedback on the slides shortly -- in other words, one to two business days.”
- “I’ve attached additional documents (for example, resource #1, resource #2, and resource #3) providing more information about our premium pricing plan and the benefits it includes.”
Once your sentence sounds correct, add the abbreviation in again. Now you’re all set to send your email, memo, or Tweet to the masses.