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Common Questions and Answers
I.e. and e.g. are two commonly encountered abbreviations used in many different types of writing. No doubt you’ve come across them more times than you can count. But what exactly do these two abbreviations mean?
While often confused, there is a difference between ie and eg that you should be aware of before trying to use them in your own writing.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what that difference is, detailing how and when to use e.g. or i.e.
If this sounds like something that would be of interest to you, then read on! We guarantee you’ll find out all you need to know on this topic—and then some!
First, let’s begin by considering the i.e. initialism. Standing for id est, a Latin term meaning “that is,” i.e. is used to provide further context to a statement preceding it.
You might think of it as another way of saying “in other words.”
So, what does i.e. mean in a sentence? It usually means the author is about to provide some clarification for a previous statement, usually by rephrasing it.
Later in this section, we’ll give you a couple of examples so you can see i.e. in action!
As mentioned above, i.e. is used whenever further clarification has to be given following a sentence.
If you’ve used a complicated turn of phrase or a piece of technically-specific vocabulary, you may use the i.e. abbreviation to provide readers with further information.
You can expect i.e. to be separated from the rest of the sentence by parentheses; for example, commas or brackets.
However, sometimes it simply follows a comma or em dash—i.e., a long dash often used to replace commas, colons, and semicolons!
To help you understand i.e. usage better, we’ve included a few examples:
These i.e. example sentences are fairly straightforward, but hopefully, they’re enough to allow you to understand how i.e. should be used in your own writing. Next, we’ll consider the use of e.g.
Hopefully, now that we’ve given a thorough explanation of it, you now have a complete understanding of the i.e abbreviation. So, with that out of the way, it’s time for us to ask: what does e.g. mean?
Like i.e., e.g. stands for a Latin phrase: exempli gratia, meaning “for example.” As you can imagine based on this alone, the e.g. abbreviation is used to introduce specific examples in order to illustrate a point.
Later, as with the previous section on i.e., we’ll give you a couple of specific examples so that you can see this for yourself.
If you want to introduce a few examples of something in order to better illustrate the point you’re making in a piece of writing, you can do so using e.g. You can use one example, or multiple, depending on what best suits your purposes.
As with i.e., e.g. is either separated by parentheses or follows a comma in a sentence. In both cases, these acronyms should be written in lowercase with a comma following them if they occur within a sentence or in parentheses.
Here are a few examples of sentences that use e.g. to help you get a better grasp of how to use it yourself:
As this article has shown, there is a time and a place to use both i.e. and e.g., but they are not interchangeable.
Hopefully, now that we’ve explained the differences between e.g. and i.e. and have provided a few examples of each, you can see that clearly for yourself!
The next time you find yourself about to use one of these abbreviations, try to remember our guidelines on when to use e.g. or i.e.
Keep in mind our advice and you’ll do just great! If it comes to it, you can even come and reread this article if you find yourself once again asking, “What does i.e. and e.g. mean?”
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