Confused About I.E. vs. E.G.? When to Use Each [With Examples]

ie-vs-eg

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.

The business world is brimming with confusing acronyms and jargon. And these terms and phrases can muddy up even the simplest of communications. I say, “Enough!

Let’s add some clarity to what i.e. and e.g. stand for and how to use them correctly.

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:

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:

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.

Looking for other ways to clear up your business communication? Check out these articles on Best Regards vs. Kind Regards, To Whom It May Concern, and “Hope You Are Doing Well" Alternatives.

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