I.e. vs. E.g.

Squishable sheep!You know what? I never learned how to use i.e. and e.g. I would just randomly choose one over the other and go with it. Now, after looking up the meanings, I know that I’ve spent YEARS humiliating myself by using these improperly. That being said, if I’m using them incorrectly, odds are–so are you. So let’s take a look at i.e. and e.g., and keep reading to figure out what the deal is with that cuddly sheep!

i.e.

I.e. is Latin for “id est,” which means “that is.” When you write a generalization and want to give some more specifics to it, you would use i.e. For example, “My husband bought me a cute gift, i.e, he bought me a Squishable sheep!” A memory hook (that a friend taught me!) for i.e. is to think of “in essence,” or “in other words.” It helps because of the “i.”

e.g.

E.g. is also Latin (go figure! :-P), but it stands for “exempli gratia,” which essentially means “for example.” Let’s use an example similar to the one above. “My husband wanted to buy a gift I could cuddle with while he was away, e.g., a pillow, blanket, or stuffed animal.” A memory hook for this is to think “egg sample” which sounds like example, or remember “e.g.=example.” The “e” works as the hook.

Final thoughts

i.e. clarifies a generalized or incomplete thought–if you use i.e., you have to give ALL the specifics. So if we looked at the sheep example above, I couldn’t say that if he gave me TWO gifts. I cannot say “My husband got me a few cute gifts, i.e., he got me a Squishable sheep.” I’m not completely explaining the generalization because I only say one gift. My other gifts would be pissed off that I didn’t mention them. 😉 However, since e.g. is used as an “example,” I could do the above. “My husband got me a few cute gifts, e.g., he got me a Squishable sheep.”  Hope this helps clear things up for you guys (Jennifer!), and good luck!

Posted in Grammar Quick Fix.

5 Comments

    • I’m glad you gave the suggestion to do this–I’ve been using them incorrectly all through college! 😛

  1. I have always been annoyed by these two words. In Swedish it’s common practice that you make an abbreviation of the actual word, because using latin phrases are just… complicated 😉

    “For example” in Swedish is “till exempel”, and is abbreviated “t.ex.” Make sense, but is very confusing when you come across the English counterpart. I spent a long time wondering what the heck “e.g.” actually stood for.

  2. It all makes perfect sense to me. Then again, I voluntarily took latin classes for seven years. 😉

    Still, good post 😀

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