How To Use the Abbreviations I. E. & E. G.

Carolyn’s Online Magazine (#COMe)

HOW TO USE

THE TRICKY ABBREVIATIONS I. E. & E. G.

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I. e. and e. g.

much like the acorn

each tiny in size

hold mighty power

Two years.

I spent two years sitting in a high school class which ranked at the top of the boring scale. It was only slightly less boring than my typing classes, and required much of the same monotonous rote exercises.

Who could have predicted way back then that typing would be such a valuable skill in the future, enabling one to expertly use the electronics media with ease?

Yet my Latin classes, almost as tedious as repeatedly typing asdfjkl, proved equally as valuable, e. g. it’s aided my deciphering scientific and medical terms as I maneuvered my way through studies in the medical field, and it’s aided my deciphering new English words.

Just today Latin came to my aid as I deciphered and explained the tricky difference between two confusing English language abbreviations: i. e. and e. g. The abbreviations are mighty small, but like most small things they are more tricky and troublesome than some of the bigger things. However,

…always and ever, for now and forever

little things mean a lot…

Although the abbreviations are small and their words short, they are tricky, having the power to befuddle the English language for writers and speakers.

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My Latin recollection of the written out names of i. e. and e. g. are id est and exempli gratia. Simply put:

  • i.e. is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase ‘id est,’ meaning ‘that is.’
  • e.g. is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase ‘exempli gratia,’ meaning ‘for example.’

ID EST: I. E.

I. e. is used to expand the explanation of something, to paraphrase something, to rephrase or explain what precedes it.

Check if you are using i. e. properly by comparing the initial statement with the restatement. They should be directly equivalent, i. e. you should be able to swap them without a loss of meaning.

You can also substitute ‘in other words’ where i. e. is in your sentence. If the sentence still makes sense, you’re OK. However, if you substitute ‘for example’ (e. g.) for ‘in other words’ the sentence will not make sense.

  • My novel-under-construction includes Revolutionary War heroes who became land speculators, i. e. they purchased large tracts of frontier land in hopes selling smaller tracts, hoping to make a profit.
  • I need to go grocery shopping because I’m out of many things, i. e. I ran out of eggs and vanilla, which I for my cake recipe.
  • Rosalie de Leval, a French émigré who arrived in the United States to escape the French Revolution, is a strong woman, i. e. she became a land speculator upon her arrival in this country.

EXEMPLI GRATIA: E. G.

Exempli gratia, e. g, provides examples of an initial statement, but not a complete list. What precedes e. g. is a category; what follows it are one or more things that fall into that category.

You can also substitute ‘for example’ where e. g. is in your sentence. If the sentence still makes sense, you’re OK. However, if you substitute ‘in other words’ (i. e.) for ‘for example’ the sentence will not make sense.

  • My novel-under-construction includes Revolutionary War heroes who became land speculators, e. g. Henry Knox, William Duer, and Henry Jackson.
  • I need to go grocery shopping because I’m out of many things, e. g. lemons and bananas.
  • I like to have a pet in the house, e. g. a cat or a dog.
  • The places I choose to write, e. g. at the computer or in the library, are quiet and have few distractions.

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It’s tricky deciding whether to use i. e. and e. g., even among highly educated writers. I even had trouble constructing sentences (when I think about something, i. e. the difference between i. e. and e. g., I confuse myself) for this article.

OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT USING I. E. & E. G.

COMMAS: The abbreviations i. e. and e. g. can be set off in parentheses, followed by a comma—or they can be written with a comma before and after the abbreviation.

ITALICIZING: Although it’s common to see Latin words and phrases italicized, e. g. in loco parentis, Latin words and phrases in common use, e. g., i. e and e. g don’t require italicization.

ETC.: Be careful not to use ‘etc.’, i. e. et cetera, at the end of a list following e. g.

SPEAKING: It’s preferable not to use i. e. or e. g. when speaking.

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As I observe many persons using the hunt-and-peck system I’m glad I suffered through the tedious classes practicing typing asdfjkl;.

I’m also grateful I studied Latin, which enables me to understand tricky phrases like i. e. and e. g.

NOTE: The WordPress writing challenge for April 7, 2016, is ‘tricky.’ 

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About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com. My novel site is www.intertwinedlove.wordpress.com.
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