Grammar 8 min read

I.e. vs. E.g.: How to Look Smart When you use These

Main i.e. vs. e.g. Takeaways:

  • I.e. means id est. It’s a Latin expression meaning “that is.”
  • Use i.e. when you want to elaborate on a statement.
  • E.g. means exempli gratia. It’s a Latin phrase meaning “for the sake of example” or “for example.”
  • Use e.g. when you want to provide examples to help the reader understand your meaning.
  • Add a period after each letter.
  • Use a comma after the last period unless they appear at the end of a sentence.
  • You don’t need to add an extra period if these appear at the end of a sentence.
  • Offset both abbreviations with commas or parenthesis.
  • Capitalize the first letter of each acronym if they appear in a header or at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Usually, you see these abbreviations in more formal or academic writing, but they also appear in everyday conversations.
Call me if you need anything at all, i.e., if you need a ride home from the game.
She’s taken up several hobbies since retiring last month (e.g., swimming lessons in the morning, gardening in the afternoon).
The text
I.e. is the abbreviation for the Latin term “id est,” while e.g. is the abbreviation for the Latin phrase, “exempli gratia.”

I.e. and e.g. are NOT interchangeable. This quick i.e. vs. e.g. guide covers what these Latin phrases mean, examples of how to use them, and easy steps to look good when you do.

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When Should I.e. be Used?

Start by connecting the”i” in i.e. to in other words.” Use i.e. wherever you would use “in other words.” For example, you can use i.e. when you want to rephrase something you just said. Or, to elaborate on something to make your original meaning clearer. This abbreviation comes from the Latin expression id est, which means “that is.” For this reason, use i.e. to sum up your main point or break down the idea you’re getting at.

A synonym for i.e. is “in other words.”
We love the great outdoors (in other words, hiking and camping in the mountains).
We love the great outdoors (i.e., hiking and camping in the mountains).

What Does E.g. Mean?

E.g. means “for example.” For this reason, you can use e.g. anywhere you’d use “for example” or “for instance.” This abbreviation comes from Latin and stands for exempli gratia. Translated literally, this phrase means “for the sake of example.” What’s more, this is also where we got the more frequently used prepositional phrase, “for example.”

There’s another simple trick you can use to remember when to use e.g. Connect the “e” in e.g. to the “e” in example.” Then, use the abbreviation when you want to offer an example or multiple examples of something you just mentioned.

A synonym for e.g. is “for example.”
I love any kind of desserts with fruit (e.g. apple pie, fruit tarts, and cherry turnovers).
I love any kind of desserts with fruit (for example, apple pie, fruit tarts, and cherry turnovers).
A boy holding two balls. The one on the left is labeled i.e. The one to his right is labeled e.g. To the boy's left side the text reads Use i.e. to elaborate. To his right side, the text reads Use e.g. to give examples.
We use the abbreviation i.e. to elaborate our ideas. On the other hand, we use e.g. to provide examples that would support our ideas.

How do you Use I.e. in a Sentence?

Here are some examples of how to use i.e. in a sentence:

The club offers a full range of VIP perks (i.e., lots of red velvet ropes, free drinks, and seats right by the band).

In this example, i.e. is being used to clarify what the writer meant by VIP perks.

Tanya’s toddler proceeded to put on her very own Broadway show, i.e. twirling in circles as she sang at the top of her lungs.

Here, we’re clarifying that the child’s show isn’t actually a Broadway production. Instead, we use the i.e. as a chance to clarify that the “show” actually was a circle song-and-dance.

English is great, but I prefer more relaxed classes, i.e., recess and lunch.

Here are some examples of how to use e.g. in a sentence:

I use lots of leafy greens (e.g., kale, spinach, and arugula) to make my signature summer salad.
We should use our savings to take a trip somewhere exotic, e.g., Bali or Bora Bora.
I packed all the essentials (e.g., pants, toothpaste, and earplugs), and now I’m ready for my trip.
A cartoon of a young Roman man proclaiming
Make sure to use the Latin abbreviation i.e. if you want to elaborate on a previously stated idea.

More I.e. vs. E.g. Example Sentences:

Universities in the country (e.g., Harvard, UCLA, and ASU) are close next week for Thanksgiving.
Universities in the country, for example, Harvard, UCLA, and ASU, are close next week for Thanksgiving.

In this example, Harvard, UCLA, and ASU are used as examples of universities.  However, the use of e.g. indicates that all the universities will close down next week, not just the three listed.

Universities in the country (i.e., Harvard, UCLA, and ASU) are close next week for Thanksgiving.
Universities in the country, that is Harvard, UCLA, and ASU, are close next week for Thanksgiving.

In this example, i.e. emphasizes that only three universities in the country will be closed for Thanksgiving.

How to Look Your Best Using I.e. vs. E.g.

Follow these six grammar rules to make sure you use i.e. vs. e.g. correctly every time:

  1. Capitalize the first letters in i.e. and e.g. if they’re at the beginning of a sentence. Or, if these abbreviations appear in headers (refer to our headers in this article).
  2. Always add a period separating each letter.
  3. Unless they appear at the end of a sentence, always add a comma after the last period.
  4. Offset these abbreviations with commas or parenthesis.
  5. Never italicize these abbreviations.
  6. If you get confused, replace i.e. with “in other words” and e.g. with “for example.

1. How to Capitalize I.e. vs. E.g.

If these abbreviations appear at the beginning of a sentence, in a title, or in a header, you should capitalize the first letter. For example, take a look at the header for this section.

If these abbreviations are in the middle of a sentence and are not part of a title or header, do not capitalize them.

2. Where to Add Periods for I.e. vs. E.g.

Both i.e. and e.g. are abbreviations for full phrases. As a result, we show this by adding a period after each letter of the abbreviation.

Therefore, add a period after the “i” and the “e” in i.e. Similarly, you should add a period after the “e” and the “g” in e.g.

3. When you Need a Comma After I.e. and E.g.

In the same way that you would put a comma after the phrase “in other words” or “for example”, you should add a comma after i.e. and e.g.

This is also due to the fact that both are abbreviations of phrases.

However, there are two exceptions.

A young Roman man saying exempli gratia. The text above his laureled head says: exempli gratia means for example.
If you’re citing examples, make sure to use the abbreviation e.g.

First, you don’t need a comma after either of these abbreviations if it appears at the end of the sentence.

Secondly, you don’t need a comma after e.g. or i.e. if they are not introducing an example of clarification.

For instance, in this article, we discussed both abbreviations as standalone literary devices. In these discussions, you’ll notice that we did not add a comma after each abbreviation.

However, when these abbreviations appear in examples or in action, you’ll notice that we did add a comma after each.

4. Why you Need Commas or Parenthesis with I.e. and E.g.

Although they do it in different ways, both the abbreviations e.g. and i.e. help clarify meaning. In this way, the often add information that helps contextualize or explain.

But, that information isn’t always necessary to the core meaning of the sentence.

As a result, clauses that begin with i.e. or e.g. are usually nonessential or nonrestrictive. This means that if we remove them from the sentence, we might lose some detail but the main idea stays intact.

5. Why you Should Italicize the Phrases, not the Abbreviations

Typically, we italicize Latin words when we use them in English. If you write out id est or exempli gratia, use italics.

However, if you use the abbreviations i.e. or e.g., do not use italics.

6. What to do if you get Confused

If you’re having trouble remembering the difference between i.e. vs. e.g., use this trick:

How to Easily Remember I.e. vs. E.g.:

  • The “i” in “i.e.” stands for “in other words.” Use this one to rephrase of clarify.
  • The e” in “e.g.” stands for “example” in “for example.” Use this one to give specific examples to illustrate your point.

Incorporate these two abbreviations into your writing, and you’ll be fully demonstrating your literary genius two little letters at a time.

Quick I.e. vs. E.g. Quiz

I.e. Question #1

Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is TRUE. Using "i.e." can help make the original meaning of a statement clearer.

I.e. Meaning Question #2

______ is a synonym for “i.e.”
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. You can use “in other words” in place of “i.e.”

E.g. Question #3

Which does NOT have the same meaning as “e.g.”?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is C. The abbreviation "e.g." stands for "exempli gratia" which means "for the sake of example." It is used to give examples.

I.e. vs. e.g. Question #4

Select the grammatically correct sentence.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. Since the sentence provides examples to support an idea, "e.g." is more appropriate.

I.e. Question #5

It would be best to punctuate
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is TRUE. Add a comma to "i.e." after the second period.

Read More: Blond Vs. Blonde: Untangle The Difference

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Krista Grace Morris

Krista heads up Marketing and Content Creation here at INK. From Linguistics and History to puns and memes, she's interested in the systems we create to share our ideas with each other.

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