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i.e. and e.g.

I constantly read and even hear people misuse the Latin abbreviations i.e. and e.g.

i.e. is Latin for id est, which means "that is". I remember it as "in essense", but you can also think of "in other words".
  • Example: I want to visit the countries of the United Kingdom (i.e., England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales).
  • In this example, you are just expressing the United Kingdom in other words. Those countries are the United Kingdom in essence; they are not examples of United Kingdoms, so you can't use e.g.
e.g. is Latin for exempli gratia, which means "for example".
  • Example: I want to visit several nations in Europe (e.g., Germany, France, and Belgium).
  • In this example, you are giving specific examples of European nations; the list of 3 nations isn't just another way of saying Europe, so you can't use i.e. here.
Remember to always follow these Latin abbreviations with commas. For more about i.e. and e.g. and other grammar topics, I highly recommend the Grammar Girl podcast. While you're at the site, check out the other Quick and Dirty Tips podcasts.

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