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Which is correct: "i.e." or "e.g." ?

These two abbreviations are often confused, but there is an important difference in their meanings. They are both short for Latin expressions.

i.e. (or ie)

This is an abbreviation for the Latin id est, which means that is.

e.g. (or eg)

This is an abbreviation for the Latin exempli gratia, which means for example.

So when you are referring to something specific, you should use i.e., and when you are giving an example, use e.g.

"The deadline for this project is in two days - i.e. pn Thursday" – the reference is to a specific day: "... that is, on Thursday."

"Please bring something to share to the picnic – e.g., some potato salad." Here the reference is to an example: "... for example, some potato salad."

In UK English, both i.e. and e.g. are usually followed by a comma.

In US English the style is not to follow i.e. and e.g. with a comma.


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Find the answers to grammatical puzzles like this in The Grammar Cookbook!