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WORD! Difference Between i.e. and e.g.

July 6, 2011

Last spring I recommended a friend to another friend for a job (big risk!). Seemed like a good fit, the woman edited her community newsletter was smart as whip and the job required editing business documents. Simple, right? Nope…and things got awkward.

When she reached out to begin the interview process she wrote i.e. instead of what should have been e.g. — the interviewer wasn’t impressed and let me know it. However, the blunder got me thinking — what is the real difference?

MISS got the scoop from one of our favorite websites, Grammar Girl.

“Misusing these two abbreviations is one of the top five mistakes I used to see when editing technical documents, says Mignon Fogarty, of Grammar Girl, “There is so much confusion that in some of the drafts I got back from clients they had actually crossed out the right abbreviation and replace it with the wrong one.”

Meaning from Grammar Girl

I.e. and e.g. are both abbreviations for Latin terms. I.e. stands for id est and means roughly “that is.” E.g. stands for exempli gratia, which means “for example.”

So here’s how I remember the difference. Forget about i.e. standing for “that is” or whatever it really means in Latin. From now on, i.e., which starts with i, means “in other words,” and e.g., which starts with e, means “for example.” I = in other words. E= example.

GG examples…

1. Our pet, Squiggly (i.e., the snail we brought home after the lab experiments were finished), loves to curl up on his little patch of grass.

2. Our pet snail, Squiggly, loves vegetation (e.g., grass, leaves, twigs).

We highly recommend taking the time to read her entire article, which includes rules of punctuation e.g. (capitalization, italics, etc.). I.e. don’t lose a job opportunity over this simple mistake. OK, we hope Fogarty wouldn’t cringe at that last sentence. ;)

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