The Difference Between e.g. and i.e.?

By Daniel Scocco

The Latin abbreviations e.g. and i.e. are used extensively in English. Not everyone, however, is aware of the difference in their usage. Some people use them interchangeably. Others even invert their meaning. If you are not completely sure when to use each of those abbreviations, keep reading!

e.g.

e.g. stands for the Latin phrase “exempli gratia,” which means “for the sake of example.” You should use it when presenting examples or more possibilities for the term in question. An easy way to remember this is to associate e.g. with “example given.”

I like citrus fruits (e.g., oranges and lemons)

i.e.

i.e. Stands for the Latin phrase “id est,” which means “that is.” You should use it when explaining or rephrasing a sentence. Usually it has the same meaning as “in other words.”

I like all fruits (i.e., I eat pretty much anything)

Some considerations

  • You can use the e.g. and i.e. abbreviations both inside and outside the parenthesis. If you are writing in a formal style, however, they must go inside the parenthesis
  • They appear in lower case letters even if at the beginning of the sentence
  • Always separate the letters with a period, and follow the abbreviation with a comma
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50 Responses to “The Difference Between e.g. and i.e.?”

  • Wendy Piersall

    I have ALWAYS wondered about these – excellent! Thanks!!! 🙂

  • Daniel

    Wendy, thanks for stopping by!

    I used to wonder about that as well, in fact if you go to my other blogs I think you will be able to find e.g. or i.e. used improperly…

  • Stephen Ward

    I feel good that I’ve been using them in the right context, even if I had the meaning slightly off. I also didn’t know about the comma rule. Thanks for getting me up to speed.

  • Andrew Flusche

    Hi Daniel,

    Very smooth article! I was going to argue your point about always using a comma, but a little quick research revealed the accuracy of your post. I shall not doubt you again!

    Andrew

  • Daniel

    Thanks Andrew! Please doubt me in the future hehe, I am learning this stuff just like you guys.

  • Roberto Alamos

    Wow, I always misused “i.e.”, hehehe, I should be using “e.g” all this time and that’s a little embarrassing since I have never used .e.g.

    Good to see you finally wrote this post 🙂 I know from first hand that you had it planned since a lot of time ago (as well as this entire blog). Good luck!

  • Ingrid

    I want to thank you for this excellent site. English not being my first language, posts like these make my day!

  • Rehuel

    This was one of the things on my “to-research” list, cause I did see some people use them accordingly, but I wanted confirmation. Thanks Dan.

  • Pravin

    I always remember “i.e.” as “in essence” and I thank you for teaching me “example given” for e.g.

  • Daniel

    Pravin, good point with “in essence”, I had never thought about it!

  • Dana Mark

    Thanks for another very helpful post. I had never heard of “example given” for e.g. either. I hope current English teachers know as much as you do and are teaching it to their students! 🙂

  • Ruth Lanham

    Thank you so much for the info. I have always wondered what the difference was.

  • hisham3

    Thank u very much for ur good explanation. That helped me telling my students the difference between e.g. & i.e.

  • Brittany Fletcher

    Thanks! I have made the mistake of using these interchangeably–now I know better.

  • Lia Sarmiento

    Thank you for helping us to know the meaning of e.g & i.e

  • Muhammad Hanif

    I much ambitious about to learn english and write. But certian words creates problem. The folloiwng words may clarify
    “to be”
    “by”

  • Felix Jizmundo

    Daniel, while I have always used those abbreviations in the correct context because I knew their individual English meanings, I never had the chance to find out the exact Latin phrase for which they stood for. Thank you for doing the work for us.

  • Zainab Musa

    Good day,
    I am a Nigeria, Pls i would like to be part of your organisation as in i want to be fluent in English language, how can i start learning to be flueng.

  • Daniel

    Zinab, what can I say, keep reading the blog!

  • Roshawn

    Excellent site. It’s a must read for aspiring bloggers and writers/authors alike.

    Keep the posts coming. We’ll read them. 🙂

  • Daniel Nordstrom

    Another nice post!

    I found out about the e.g. one a few weeks ago, didn’t know about the i.e. though. I’m a Swede so I though it stood for “in example” or something like that. But latin… I see. 🙂

    Very useful!

  • Abdullah

    Thank you, I always tried to know about them.

  • Jenny

    Wow. I didn’t know this. I’ve learned something new!

  • guppyman

    Ha ha… This is interesting and informative. Thanks for the sharing.

  • rani

    very very thanks you very very!

  • Benny Giri

    Thank you for the info. many of English learner still don’t realize the difference between the terms, including me..
    Keep me informed for such a good info..

  • Özhan

    I always thought “i.e.” as “in example”

  • Rani Lean

    Thanks. This info on ‘difference between i.e and e.g ‘ with given examples is really very helpful. This site is great!!!

  • lemuel

    well i’m so happy to know that you guys are searching for the very simple details in grammar.great! now i could use them properly..

  • PreciseEdit

    Just a reminder: Don’t forget the comma after “i.e.” or “e.g.” Many of the writers with whom we work forget this comma.

    We have an article about these two terms in our training manual, found on our site, because they are so often mistaken.

  • Kaboggoza Abdallah.

    I would like to know the meanig of the following word: pro rata.
    Otherwise, thank you very much for teaching us .

    God bless you all.

  • Jim Clary

    Thanks for the great tip. It will help me in the future.

  • MIN HAN

    How wonderful your teaching is ! I am very lucky I have had new knowledge. Special thanks for your presentation.

  • Editor, The SciTech Journal

    GREAT POST. VERY HELPFUL. THANKS FOR SHARING THE THOUGHTS. GOOD LUCK 🙂 Thumbs Up to you 🙂

  • Charlie Gilkey

    Thanks for the great explanation here. I, too, have been using them somewhat interchangably. Keep up the great work!

  • Diane Drinkwater

    Hey that so simple! Thanks for that. I’ll be able to explain this one to my son!

    And am bookmarking your site right now!

  • Singapore Industrial Designer

    Thanks for the clarification.

    I needed that!

  • Gururaja A G

    Nice explaination

  • Angela

    This is enlightening! Thanks Daniel. What I was really looking for though is the difference between {}, [] and (). What and when are they technically supposed to be used? I am pretty sure [] is used when adding in words that were omitted when citing someone’s quote. Am I correct? Now how about the others…

  • Etihad bangladesh

    hello, thanks. Its very help full topic.

  • Latif

    what is the difference between Thanks and Thank You? Thanks

  • PreciseEdit

    Latif: This is an issue of formality.

    “Thank you” is the correct and formal way to state your appreciation.
    “Thanks” is the informal, casual way to state this.

  • Lauren

    Very helpful. Too bad I didn’t read it fully before starting a sentence with “i.e.” and capitalizing the “I”. I knew it seemed weird.

  • Chiranjeevi

    Can someone clarify me as to why these abbreviations ‘i.e.’ and ‘e.g.’ be followed by a comma?

  • Jeff

    @Chiran For the same reason you’d put a comma after “for example” or “that is” if you weren’t using the Latin abbreviation.

    Note that I like to italicize e.g. and i.e. (And etc) as I would any Latin word.

  • audrey

    Great article, simple and to the point. I’ve always wondered about using these two and have ressearched the difference before. This time, I believe, it will stick because of the example given for e.g.

    thanks!

  • Bea

    Thank you so much for both defining and providing examples, e.g., the Latin origins of each. Well done and I will now consider a membership based on this talented teaching style you are graced with. Bravo(a)!

  • Chris

    There is an important disctinction between the two that is important espcecially if used in contracts. When ‘e.g.’ is used, the following description is not an exhaustive list, with ‘i.e.’ it is.

    E.g., “By accepting these terms you agree to you are not using the product / service for commercial purposes (i.e., for hire or resale)”.
    Vs., “By accepting these terms you agree to you are not using the product / service for commercial purposes (e.g., for hire or resale)”.

    Use of ‘i.e.’ further clarifes and limits the definition of ‘commercial purposes to ‘hire or resale’; meaning if it’s not for hire or resale then it’s not considered as ‘for commercial purposes’.
    Whereas the ‘e.g.’ version means that ‘hire or resale’ are not the only example of ‘commercial purposes’, so there would be other instances where the product service couldn’t be used.

    I.e., if the product / service was e.g., a bouncy / jumping castle, and you wanted to use it at a party for which you charged a general admission fee, the use of “e.g” would forbid this, but the use of “i.e.” would allow it!

  • Shanna

    “I used to wonder about that as well, in fact if you go to my other blogs I think you will be able to find e.g. or i.e. used improperly…”

    Should the comma have been a semicolon? I also don’t think the ellipses were entirely correct.

  • Steve

    In the two example sentences, periods should be placed outside the final parenthesis.

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