i.e. vs e.g.
Wrong: I like lots of bands (i.e., The Beatles and The Clash).
Right: I like lots of bands (e.g., The Beatles and The Clash).
Many people use these abbreviations as if they’re synonymous, but they’re not. Without delving into the Latin words from which the abbreviations are derived, it’s easy to keep them straight:
· e.g. means “for example.” Use it when you’re going to list items. Think of it as “eg-zample”, and you’ll always know when to use it.
· i.e. means “in other words.” Use it when you’re going to rephrase something. Simply tell yourself that the “i” in i.e. stands for “in.” If you can remember “egzample” and “in other words” you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping them straight.
Also, be sure to always follow either of these abbreviations with a comma. For example:
· “We need dairy products (e.g., milk, eggs, and cheese).”
· “This is the time for action; i.e., we have to make our move now.”
Perhaps the best approach in most cases is simply to say “for example” or “in other words.” Then you won’t have to worry about the abbreviations at all.More next time.