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When And How Should You Use i.e. & e.g. In A Sentence?

Have you seen or heard others use the abbreviations i.e. and e.g. and felt envious or bewildered?

Many people have only a vague understanding of e.g. and i.e.—enough familiarity to gather what is meant by it, but not enough to use it confidently themselves. Read on for a simple straightforward explanation of the elusive Latin abbreviations.

e.g. is an abbreviation of exempli gratia, which means “for example.”
Use e.g. before listing examples of the previous statement.
I write poetry and prose in my journals, but they also serve other purposes; e.g. calculating gratuity.

i.e. is an abbreviation of id est; translation: “that is.”
Use i.e. before clarifying or adding to the previous statement.
When I went on vacation last week, I brought my favorite writing journal; i.e., the one with the beaded cover.

Our preferred reference manual, i.e. Gregg Reference Manual, suggests:
“Use the abbreviated forms e.g. and i.e. only in informal, technical, or ‘expedient’ documents (such as business forms, catalogs, and routine e-mail messages, memos, and letters between business offices).”

NOTE: Do not italicize i.e. and e.g. Although they are abbreviations for Latin words, they are considered standard English because they’ve been in use for so long. Don’t leave out the periods though. Remember, they are abbreviations!

6 Responses to When And How Should You Use i.e. & e.g. In A Sentence?

  1. Why are we using these at all? I mean I like knowing where words came from and their often latin roots, but for the sake of limiting potentially perceived obfuscation, would it be that hard to type out “that is” and “for example” instead of using abbreviations to words from a dead language?

  2. Hi Pat,

    It does not have to end the sentence, but it would be best to set it off by dashes at the beginning and end of the phrase.

  3. Does the i.e., phrase have to end the sentence? Or what punctuation may I use to continue….?

    “The planning documents; i.e., the FEIS, and earlier REAP’s – contain lists of prope…”

    forgot the example.

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