How many times have you asked yourself, do I use e.g. or i.e.? E.g. and i.e. grew up in the same era – they are both Latin abbreviations. However, they have different meanings.
E.g. stands for exempli gratia which technically translates to free examples. Use e.g. when providing some examples of something. After e.g., you provide an example or list of examples, naming some items but not an all-inclusive list.
Correct: Amphibians are animals that can live in the water and on land, e.g., bullfrogs, tadpoles.
Incorrect: Tadpoles are the type of animal that can live in the water and on land, e.g., an amphibian.
I.e. stands for id est or that is. Use i.e. when looking for another way to say something. After i.e., you would write a definition, metaphor or clarification.
Correct: An elephant is an animal with thick skin and nails resembling hooves, i.e., a pachyderm.
Incorrect: A pachyderm is an animal with thick skin and nails resembling hooves, i.e., an elephant.
Using the correct punctuation
You may have noticed in the examples above that these abbreviations do have one thing in common – punctuation. They both have periods between letters and a comma after.
How can I remember the difference?
If you like memory tricks, perhaps these will trigger you to remember the difference. Use the letters themselves to help you. To remind you that e.g. stands for examples, let the letters “eg” stand for egg sample. To remind you that i.e. stands for another way to say something, let the letters “ie” stand for in other words.