Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Is that i.e. or e.g.?
Do you ever wonder when to use "i.e." and when to use "e.g."? Or do you just throw in an "i.e." as your all-purpose solution, figuring there's no big difference?
Well, there is a difference, and if you're interested in what it is and why it matters, read on.
The boring stuff: Both come from Latin—id est directly translated is "that is (to say)," or "which means," while the translation of exempli gratia is "for the sake of example," or, more commonly, "for example."
They are not interchangeable. As an editor, I often see "i.e." used where "e.g." is meant, and I change it. Learn the difference, and you'll instantly impress the next editor to read your work.
Tip: Use "i.e." to mean "that is," but use "e.g." to mean "for example."
Easier Tip: Think of "e.g." as "example given."