#EngClass: i.e. vs e.g.

Hi, fellas! :D How are you? Did you have fun today? I watched a few of my favorite movies, i.e., Easy A, Mean Girls, and Madagascar.

Do you like cartoons, fellas? Me too! I like MGM cartoons, e.g., Tom and Jerry and Droopy. They are so funny!

You can see I used i.e. and e.g. above. Do you know what’s the difference between those two? Do you have any difficulties in using i.e. or e.g. correctly? Do you have trouble choosing which one is suitable for your sentence? We’ll talk about it here.

i.e. and e.g. are both abbreviations for Latin terms. i.e. is an abbreviation of “id est”, which means that is and e.g. is an abbreviation of “exempli gratia” which means for the sake of example.


Using i.e. and e.g.

In order to make it easier to understand the use of both, we can say that i.e. stands for “in other words” and e.g. stands for “example given”. i.e. is used to describe something in a different way, or to give a further definition. e.g. is used to give examples.

In using e.g., think of the word before e.g. as a category, and the words after e.g. as something or a few things that would fall into that category. I will give you some examples:

  • The members of the band All Time Low (i.e., Alex, Jack, Rian and Zack) are all more than 20 years old.

The i.e. I used in the example sentence is used to describe/define “the members of all time low”.

  • I love watching Disney animated movies, e.g., Tangled, Chicken Little, and The Lion King.

The e.g. I used in the example sentence is used to give some example of Disney animated movies, not mentioning all of them.


Use of comma after i.e. and e.g.

You might be confused with the use of a comma after e.g. and i.e., but a comma is commonly used after them.

The use of comma after e.g. and i.e. has also been discussed by @GrammarGirl here: I.e. Versus E.g. And most style guides recommend that you should use a comma.

The comma should be used after i.e. and e.g. in American English, and not in British English.


Compiled and written by @waitatiri on @EnglishTips4U on Wednesday, July 31, 2013


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