The abbreviation e.g. stands for example and is short for the Latin word exempli gratia. It differs from i.e., which is short for the Latin id est and means that is, namely, or in other words. They’re often confused, but they have little in common except that they’re both abbreviations of Latin words.

Remember that E is an example (e.g.) and that I and E are the first letters of a literal English translation of i.e.

In regular use, italicizing e.g. and i.e. is unnecessary. When English speakers are learning the language for the first time, they italicize words and phrases from other languages; however, i.e. and e.g. have been in English for hundreds of years, so they are now unitalicized. Abbreviations are all about keeping things quick and easy, after all.

But what’s the point of all this Latin? Don’t we have enough abbreviations in English?

How to Write with E.g. and I.e.

When i.e. and e.g. appear in the middle of a sentence, they are lowercase. Most American style guides advise using a comma after e.g. and i.e. and using periods after each letter, and this is generally reflected in edited American books and publications. Periods and commas are often ignored outside of North America.

In general, you add a comma after e.g. and between each subsequent example if there is more than one item in your list. If you want your examples or your narrowing-down set apart from the rest of the sentence, you can enclose e.g. and i.e., along with the examples associated with them, in parentheses.

Consider the following two examples:

After work, I’ll walk over to that new sports arena, i.e., Old Trafford.

After work, I’ll walk over to a sports arena, e.g., Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge.

In the first scenario, you’re confirming that Old Trafford is the exact arena you’ll be visiting. In the second scenario, you might go to Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, or any other sports arena.

Let’s go over it again..

E.g. is used to provide one or more possible examples. It indicates that you are seeing one or more of several possibilities.

I.e., on the other hand, clarifies; you’re giving more specific information. Whereas e.g. opens up more options, it also narrows them down.

Are you writing a business e-mail or a blog post and need to make sure whether you wrote it correctly? Our proofreaders will gladly help!