Word Nerd: When to Use e.g. or i.e.
i.e. = clarifications
Think of the i at the beginning of i.e. as standing for the first word in the phrase “in other words,” indicating that the clause that follows will rephrase or explain what precedes the term. It is not used for a list of examples, it is used when you want to explain what you just said in a different way. I.e. narrows down and clarifies a statement.
- I’ll listen to anything; i.e., I like any kind of music.
- After work, I’ll walk over to that new sports arena (i.e., The American Airlines Center).
e.g. = examples
E.g. is a little more straightforward since e stands for exempli meaning “example.” Use e.g. when you give one or more possible examples. E.g. opens up more options.
- I’ll listen to anything (e.g., country-western, rap, light jazz).
- After work, I’ll walk over to a sports arena, e.g., The American Airlines Center, Victory Court or Mile High Stadium.
- It is always correct to simply write out, "for example," or "that is."
- Since these are abbreviations, they do require a period after each letter.
- All but one main style guide recommends a comma after use: i.e., and e.g.,
- Both e.g. and i.e. are presented in lower case when they show up in the middle of a sentence (i.e., like this).
- You can use parentheses or commas with both. To indicate a separate clause, you can either insert a comma before "i.e." or "e.g." or you can use parentheses. If you use parentheses, open them right before the "e.g." or "i.e." and close them after you have given your example or alternate definition. Examples of both are above.
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Word Nerd is a quarterly feature created by members of the SDA National Membership Committee. Special thanks to Brooke Simcik, CDFA for this quarter's topic. Brooke is the Business Manager of VAI Architects, Incorporated in Dallas, Texas and currently serves as the SDA National Vice-President for the 2017-2018 term.