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  Tips for Writers by Brad Hyde (October 15, 2007)

Is That an Example or In Other Words?

Do you know the difference between e.g. and i.e.? Perhaps you think the two serve the same purpose; no, in fact, they do not!

To tell the two apart read the following carefully.

For e.g., the two letters stand for "exempli grata," which means "for the sake of example." If you have an example of something or an additional example of that something, then use it.

 I like different kinds of bread (e.g., brown, raisin, pumpernickel, sourdough).

For i.e., the two letters stand for "id est," which means "that is." Use i.e. as a kind of replacement for the colon. Most times i.e. means the same as "in other words."

I like all different kinds of bread (i.e., I'll eat any kind you serve to me).

When using either expression use a comma after (as in "i.e.," or "e.g.,") and do not use capital letters with either. For formal expression, use parenthesis as in my example above.

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