The Oxbridge Editing Blog 11th April 2024

E.g. or I.e.? Main Differences and How to Use Them

11th April 2024
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Abbreviations can sometimes cause confusion. Two common abbreviations that writers often encounter are ‘e.g.’ and ‘i.e.’ These Latin terms, while similar, serve different purposes in enhancing clarity and precision in written communication. Let’s delve into their meanings and how to use them effectively.

What Does E.g. Mean?

‘E.g.’ is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase ‘exempli gratia,’ which translates to ‘for example’. It is used to introduce one or more examples that illustrate a point or support an assertion. When you use ‘e.g.’ in a sentence, you are providing examples that represent a broader category or concept.


  • Many fruits (e.g., apples, bananas, oranges) are rich in vitamins.

What Does I.e. Mean?

On the other hand, ‘i.e.’ is short for the Latin phrase ‘id est,’ meaning ‘that is.’ It is used to clarify or specify a statement by providing further explanation or rephrasing. When you use i.e. in a sentence, you are restating or elaborating on what has been previously mentioned.


  • I prefer to exercise outdoors (i.e., running in the park) rather than at the gym.

How to Use I.e and E.g. in Writing

When incorporating these Latin abbreviations into your writing, it’s crucial to ensure clarity and precision to effectively convey your intended meaning. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of how to use these abbreviations effectively:


Place ‘e.g.’ or ‘i.e.’ within parentheses or follow them with a comma when they appear in the middle of a sentence. This separates them from the surrounding text and alerts readers to their function as abbreviations.


Ensure proper punctuation when using ‘e.g.’ and ‘i.e.’ Use a period after each letter in both abbreviations (‘e.g.’ and ‘i.e.’). Additionally, if they occur within a sentence, follow them with a comma to maintain the correct punctuation.


Consistently use lowercase letters for both ‘e.g.’ and ‘i.e.’ unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence. When these abbreviations start a sentence, capitalise them as you would any other word.


Select ‘e.g.’ when providing examples to illustrate a broader category or concept. This signals to readers that the examples listed are representative and not exhaustive.

Reserve ‘i.e.’ for instances where clarification or rephrasing is needed. It indicates to readers that further explanation or elaboration on the preceding statement will follow.


  • I enjoy listening to various genres of music (e.g., pop, rock, jazz) depending on my mood.
  • I prefer to spend my weekends outdoors (i.e., hiking in the mountains or cycling by the beach) rather than staying indoors.

In the first example, ‘e.g.’ is used to provide examples of different music genres, representing a broader category. In the second example, ‘i.e.’ clarifies and specifies the specific outdoor activities preferred by the speaker, offering further explanation.

Also Read: How to Use Quotation Marks: Rules and Examples

Using Abbreviations to Enhance Clarity in Your Writing

Mastering the usage of ‘e.g.’ and ‘i.e.’ can significantly enhance the clarity and precision of your writing. Understanding their meanings and how to use them appropriately can help you convey your message effectively. 

Need to ensure correct use of these latin abbreviations? We’ve got you covered. Let us help you refine your writing and ensure proper usage of abbreviations in your documents. Our editing and proofreading services can polish your content to perfection. Get a bespoke quote today.