Email Grammar Lesson – e.g. versus i.e.

Although I’m not known for my grasp of the English language – I do feel that if I’m presenting myself as a marketer and choosing to frequently use email as a communication tool I should at least have a grasp of proper grammar. One thing I always get confused about is as to when I should use the abbreviation “e.g.” as opposed to “i.e.” in professional correspondence / emails.

 I’ve noticed that I prefer to use “e.g.” and others might more often prefer to use “i.e.” in very similar use cases – I asked someone who actually corrected my e.g. to an i.e. and they said “well i.e. stands for “in example”….which I knew was wrong…so I finally got to the bottom of it for my own education and have elected to share for no other reason than I have wasted so much time on it that I’m trying to recoup some return on my investment through the betterment of others…

1. e.g.

e.g. stands for exempli gratia, which means “for example.” You are supposed to use e.g. to introduce one or more possibilities among many.

I like outdoor sports, e.g., football, soccer.
(football and soccer are just one of many types of outdoor sports)

He wastes his money on junk, e.g. cars that don’t run.
(cars that don’t run are junk)

I’ll listen to any kind of music, e.g., country-western, rap, etc.
(Country-western and rap are just two of the many types of music that I’ll listen to)

An easy way to remember what e.g. means is to think of it as standing for “example given.”  

2. i.e.

i.e. stands for id est which means “that is.” Use i.e. when what you are introducing is equivalent to or an explanation of what comes before it in the sentence.

I like outdoor sports; i.e., the ones that are played outside on a grassy field.

He wastes his money on junk; i.e., stuff that he will never get around to fixing.

I’ll listen to anything; i.e., I like any kind of music.

Basically, i.e. means “in other words.” It’s used to reword or provide an alternate explanation.

The Bottom Line

e.g. and i.e. are both Latin abbreviations. Both introduce additional information, but e.g. offers an example while i.e. explains or rewords. If you can replace the abbreviation with “for example,” use e.g. If you can replace it with “in other words” or “that is,” use i.e.


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