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  • Writer's pictureAmy Guan

E.G. vs. I.E.

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

These abbreviations are misused all too often—learn the difference once and for all.


The Short Story


Use “e.g.” to give examples.


Ex: I like to eat only soft and fluffy sweets (e.g., marshmallows, circus peanuts, and peeps).


Use “i.e.” to rephrase or clarify a point.


Ex: I like to eat only soft and fluffy sweets (i.e., sweets that are easy to chew and that melt in your mouth).



The Novel


If “e.g.” and “i.e.” trip you up every time you use them, you’re not alone. Even professional editors need a refresher on these two once in a while.


So, what do “e.g.” and “i.e.” actually mean? Where do they come from?


“E.g.” is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase exempli gratia, which essentially means “for example.”


“I.e.” is derived from the Latin term id est, which means “that is.”


Don’t worry about memorizing the Latin. Instead, all you need to remember is that “e.g.” and “example” both start with E. And “i.e.” and “that is” both contain I. Or, you could change “that is” to “in other words” (they mean the same thing).


“E.g.” and “i.e.” directly follow the word or phrase they are giving examples of or clarifying. They are most often set apart in parentheses; however, they can come after a comma as well. A comma should always be placed immediately after “e.g.” and “i.e.”


Let’s look at some examples:


Ex: Athletes that compete in aerobic sports (e.g., running, cycling, and swimming) can lower their heart rate quicker than others after exercising.


We use “e.g.” here because running, cycling, and swimming are examples of aerobic sports. Are they the only aerobic sports out there? Definitely not. When we use “e.g.,” we are simply giving examples, not an exhaustive list. That means you do not need to use the words “etc.” or “and so on” after using “e.g.”


In this example, “e.g.” is used right after “aerobic sports” because it is providing examples of aerobic sports. If we were going to give examples of athletes, the “e.g.” would come after “athletes.” Just make sure to add the abbreviation right after the subject you are going to give examples of. And don’t forget the comma that follows it— a comma is always placed right after “e.g.”


Ex: Athletes that compete in aerobic sports (i.e., sports that get your heart pumping) can lower their heart rate quicker than others after exercising.


In this slightly different sentence, “i.e.” is used instead of “e.g.” because we are clarifying what aerobic sports are instead of giving examples of aerobic sports.


Ex: Jessica liked to run races with a lot of mental distractions, e.g., listening to music, using a Fitbit, and daydreaming.


In this sentence, listening to music, using a Fitbit, and daydreaming are examples of mental distractions, so we use “e.g.”


Ex: Jessica doubted she could do something so difficult, i.e., running the race without her headphones and music.


What is so difficult? Specifically running the race without headphones and music. “I.e.” is used in this sentence to clarify what “difficult” means to Jessica. If this clarification was not used here, we would not understand what was difficult for Jessica. And again, “i.e.” and a comma comes right after the word it is clarifying.



The Examples


“If a parent/designated person wishes to remain on-site for the duration of the game or training session, they may do so in close proximity to the event (e.g., in their cars) and must also have completed the GAA online health questionnaire prior to leaving home.”

(Games, Gaelic. “Full GAA Training Can Resume in Northern Ireland on Friday with Further Opening up Following in Early May.” BBC Sport, BBC, 2021, www.bbc.com/sport/gaelic-games/56843128.)


In this sentence, “in their cars” is an example of one way parents can remain on-site and in close proximity to the event. Thus, we would use “e.g.” here.


“It seems likely that some people who were vaccine hesitant (i.e., not against vaccinating but unsure if they actually would) are actually getting a shot.”

(Enten, Harry. “Analysis: US Is Getting Better and Better News on the Coronavirus.” CNN, Cable News Network, 16 May 2021, www.cnn.com/2021/05/16/politics/coronavirus-vaccinations-polling-analysis/index.html.)


The phrase “vaccine hesitant” is a little ambiguous and a few different interpretations could be made by readers. However, through the use of “i.e.,” the author explains what he means: vaccine hesitant people are those that aren’t against vaccinating but don’t know if they are actually going to get the vaccine.


“These platforms have user-generated content that can be really funny and creative, but can also try to grab eyeballs with outrageous (e.g., challenges) or high-pleasure content (e.g., unboxing) videos that keep kids coming back, which translates to more ad dollars.”

(Radesky, Opinion by Dr. Jenny. “The Digital World Is Built on Advertising. How Do We Help Kids Navigate It?” CNN, Cable News Network, 18 May 2021, www.cnn.com/2021/05/18/health/kids-digital-advertising-wellness/index.html.)


“E.g.” is used twice here to provide examples of outrageous and high-pleasure content.





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