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

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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. 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. 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 thoughts on “The Difference Between e.g. and i.e.?”

  1. 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…

  2. 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.

  3. 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!


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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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! 🙂

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

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

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

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

  13. 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!

  14. 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..

  15. 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.

  16. 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.


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

  19. 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…

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. @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.

  23. 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.


  24. 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)!

  25. 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!

  26. “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.

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