I.e. and e.g. are abbreviations people use to give more information about a topic. In this post you will learn what i.e. and e.g. mean, their Latin root words, and how to tell them apart using a mnemonic device.
i.e. = in other words
The abbreviation i.e. comes from the Latin words id est, which means that is. We use it to give more details about something and to clarify.
Example: Liza has only one hobby (i.e., bowling).
Here we say that Liza has only one hobby, and we clarify that her one hobby is bowling. We could also say: Liza has only one hobby, in other words, bowling.
Note that the explanation that comes after i.e. can be the only answer.
e.g. = example
The abbreviation e.g. comes from the Latin phrase exempli gratia, which means for the sake of example. We use it to give examples of something.
Example: Stacy saw many animals at the zoo, e.g., flamingos, giraffes, and unicorns.
Here we give examples of what animals Stacy saw at the zoo. She saw flamingos, giraffes, and unicorns, but those weren’t the only animals she saw. Those are examples of just some of the many animals she saw. Unlike with i.e., the explanation that comes after e.g. is only one or more of the possible answers.
To remember what they mean, we’re going to say i.e. = in other words because they both start with the letter I, and e.g. = example because they both start with the letter E.
Choose either i.e. or e.g. to fill in the spaces below. The answers are at the end.
- The unicorn is skilled at hundreds of games, _____, poker, charades, and field hockey.
- Unicorns are found in the wild in only one region, _____, the Philippines.
- Unicorns can do many jobs (_____, accountant, glassblower, fitness coach, and talk show host).
- Sal the unicorn has a favorite party trick (_____, blowing glitter from his horn).
Answers: 1) e.g. 2) i.e. 3) e.g. 4) i.e.
Erin Servais is a book editor, author coach, and owner of Dot and Dash LLC, an author-services company focused on helping women author-entrepreneurs reach their publishing goals. To learn more about how she can help you, no matter where you are on your writing adventure, check out her site: Dot and Dash LLC. There, you can also read her blog about writing: Dot and Dash blog.