MiR 036 Shorts – i.e or e.g.


Welcome to the Mark in Russia podcast network, episode #36, and I’m your host, Mark. This episode is part of my series of “Shorts” and by this I mean approximately 5 minute long podcasts which are aimed at explaining a Quick Grammar Tip. My plan is to post a new one once per week.

You should go to the website, markinrussia.com and look at the shownotes and vocabulary. You’ll get more out of the lesson if you are able to follow it in writing.

Todays Quick Grammar Tip concerns the use of i.e. and e.g., what they mean, how to remember which one to use and also what punctuation to use with them.

First let’s see what these mean. Both are abbreviations for Latin terms and i.e. means, “ id est”, which in English means approximately “that is”, while e.g. means, “exempli gratia” or in English, “for example”.

Now, I think that Latin is a great language to learn and it would be good if we all understand it, but I sure don’t and I suspect that most listening to this podcast don’t either, so let’s just toss the Latin meaning aside and use something we can remember.

Since i.e. means, “that is”, let’s think about it as meaning, “in other words”. This way our memory phrase (in other words) and the Latin both start with the letter “i”.

E.g. is a bit easier, and if you remember this one, you won’t need to remember both. Let’s just think of the word “example” to remember the phrase “e.g.” otherwise known as “for example”. This way they both start with the letter “e”.

Use “i.e.” to paraphrase. Make a statement, and then add “i.e.” to explain or describe what you just said in a different way. Use i.e. to clarify something.

Let’s try a few examples:

“I love summer sports i.e., baseball, fishing and tennis.”

“I really enjoy hard work i.e. watching others work hard.”

“I’m going to the place where I work best, i.e., the coffee shop.”

Note that what follows “i.e.” is some sort of definition.

Use “e.g.” before giving one or more examples. Think of what precedes “e.g.” as a category, and what follows it as something (or a few things) that would fall into that category:

“Buy some vegetables, e.g., carrots and potatoes.”

“I’m studying the solar system, e.g., planets, the sun and moons.”

How to punctuate i.e. and e.g.

There’s disagreement concerning punctuation, but the majority of sources say that you should always put a comma after i.e. and e.g. in American English, but omit the comma in British English. You can put a comma before them also, if you wish, although this requirement is vague and not really stated.

You can also use parentheses starting just before the i.e. or e.g. and ending after the words you introduces using these. Look at the following example:

“I’m studying the solar system, (e.g., planets, the sun and moons).”

Do not use italics; the abbreviations have been part of the English language so long that they are not required and always used a period after each letter.

It’s unfortunate that people often forget how to use i.e. and e.g. and because they forget, they don’t choose to use either of them, but including these in your writing where appropriate can add more color and depth to your writing.

Never use these in speech, only writing.

Well, this was by no means a complete study of the subject, merely a Quick Tip as the title states.

You’re welcome to check out the other podcasts at www.markinrussia.com

Thanks for listening to my Quick Tip and I hope you come back next week to listen to the next one.

Thank you and goodbye!

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