Occasionally, we come across the abbreviations i.e. and e.g., but what do they mean, and what is the difference between them? How do grammar rules apply?
These two terms originate in the Latin language and are just two of the many Latin phrases that have survived into modern language.
Both i.e. and e.g. are abbreviations for longer Latin phrases, so one of the smartest ways to memorize these terms is to learn what they stand for.
If you speak any of the Latin languages, you’ll have the upper hand in memorizing i.e. and e.g. And if you don’t speak any Latin languages, then here are some tips to help you better understand these two terms.
That is (i.e.)
Id est means “that is.” It can also mean in other words. According to our grammar rules, when this term is abbreviated, it is always written with periods between and after the letters: i.e., and it should always be followed by a comma, and then the remainder of the sentence. It often acts as a conjunction, linking two separate phrases or ideas together. It is interesting to note that the similar phrase il est is still fully alive in the French language, meaning “he is” or “it is.”
I am writing, i.e., I am putting my thoughts into words on paper.
I am writing, that is, I am putting my thoughts into words on paper.
For Example (e.g.)
Exempli gratia means “for the sake of example,” but we often construe it to simply mean “for example.” As with i.e., it is always written with periods between and after the letters when it is abbreviated. It is usually followed by a comma, but there may be exceptions based on context.
There are many Latin words and phrases that still exist in modern languages, e.g., carpe diem, which means “seize the day.”
There are many Latin words and phrases that still exist in modern languages, for example, carpe diem, which means “seize the day.”
Avoid a Mix-up: Tips for Remembering i.e. and e.g.
Abbreviated or not, these terms are not interchangeable. They simply do not mean the same thing. Still, they are often used in ways that are confusing, and since they look similar, they are easy to confuse. How to remember the difference?
These two abbreviations share the letter e. So, we must use the other letters, the i and the g, respectively, to remember which is which. The trick is to just remember one of them, and the easiest of the two is i.e., or that is.
If you can associate the i in i.e. with the word is, you’ll be fine, because e.g. doesn’t have the letter i, and neither does the phrase for example.
i.e. = that is
e.g. = for example
Another popular memory trick involves the made-up word eggsample, which starts with e.g. and sounds a lot like example (as in “for example” or “for eggsample”), which, of course, is the meaning of e.g.).
Can you think of any other ways to easily remember i.e. and e.g.? Which Latin terms do you struggle with? Are there any grammar rules that confuse you? Leave a comment to share your thoughts or ask questions.