I.e. vs. e.g.: What’s the Difference and What Do They Mean?

Many think that i.e. vs. e.g. are interchangeable however that’s not true. Although both abbreviations are from Latin phrases and are used to clarify a preceding statement, each has its own meaning and correct application. 

The main difference being is that e.g. is to give examples while i.e. is to clarify. To better understand their differences, when to use i.e. vs e.g., and examples of i.e. vs e.g. in a sentence, continue reading this abbreviation comparison.

What Is the Difference Between i.e. vs. e.g.?

The difference between i.e. and e.g. is that i.e. is short for id est, while e.g. is exempli gratia. Both abbreviations are Latin phrases. If you translate them to English, exempli gratia means “for example.” On the other hand, id est means “that is.” 

Here is a quick comparison table so you can easily remember: 

Latin words/phrasesExempli gratiaId est 
English translationFor example That is or in other words 
Application/Usage Give examples if you want to illustrate or elaborate.To clarify more clearly the preceding statement. More definite or certain. 
Example in a sentence I like Japanese food (e.g., pork tonkatsu, sushi, and ramen). I like ramen, sushi, and pork tonkatsu, i.e., I like Japanese food. 

What Is i.e.? 

As mentioned earlier, if you directly translated its Latin phrase id est to English, i.e. stands for “that is.” It can also mean “in other words.” Unlike e.g., you are not giving or listing examples to elaborate on your first statement. With i.e., you are clarifying your first statement. 

Tip: If you are having a hard time when should you use i.e., you can use a memory trick; the letter i stands for “in other words”, not examples. 

Examples of i.e. In a Sentence:

  1.  “The itinerary only includes one free meal (i.e., dinner).” 
  2. “We are due to present our pitch deck by 1:00 PM on Monday — i.e., we need to finalize and check our edits no later than Friday 5:00 PM. 
  3. “I like ramen, sushi, and pork tonkatsu, i.e., I like eating Japanese food.”

What Is e.g.? 

E.g. means exempli gratia or, in English, for example. Unlike i.e., using of e.g. is pretty straightforward. Whenever you are giving or listing examples to support your first statement, that means you should use e.g.  

Tip: With e.g., you are not clarifying your first statement; you are giving examples for illustration or elaboration.  

Examples of e.g. In a Sentence: 

  1. I like Japanese food (e.g., pork tonkatsu, sushi, and ramen). 
  2. Your test shows that you are anemic. You should really start eating foods that are rich in iron (e.g., spinach, legume, and red meat). 
  3. My daughter loves watching cartoons (e.g., Polly Pocket and My Little Pony ‘N Friends).

When to Use e.g. vs. i.e.? 

Using e.g. vs. i.e. can still be very confusing even when you have examples and know the meaning behind the abbreviation. Here is a handy checklist you can refer to if you are unsure which one to use. 

Do you want to give examples? x
Do you want to clarify your first statement?  x
Do you want to state or reiterate a point but differently? x

Still have a hard time remembering the difference between i.e. vs. e.g.? Here’s a clever trick: substitute e.g. with “for example,” and i.e. with “in other words” when writing your sentence. If you swapped “for example” and the sentence doesn’t make sense, you’ll most likely need to use i.e. and not e.g. 

Here are some examples: 

  1. I’ll send you my findings shortly – in other words, within the day or after two business days.”
  2. I’ve attached all the necessary documents to support my claim (for example, the application form and valid IDs)

Punctuation and Formatting: How to Use in a Sentence? 

Regardless of the abbreviations’ different usage or application, both share punctuation and formatting similarities in general. Here’s how to use i.e. or e.g. in a sentence. 

  • Since i.e. and e.g. are abbreviations, each letter should be followed by a period. 
  • When you are using i.e. or e.g. in the middle of a sentence, all letters should be lowercase. This rule is applicable to most style guides. 
  • Only the first letter should be capitalized when starting a sentence with i.e. or e.g. 
  • Add a comma after the abbreviation whether you are using it in parenthesis or in a sentence. If you are writing in British English, the second period is not followed by a comma.  
  • You don’t have to italicize i.e. or e.g. 
  • You can put the abbreviation in parenthesis or in a sentence. 
  • Never put “etc” at the end of e.g.’s list. 
  • When using e.g., you don’t need to have a complete list of the possible examples. You can stick to one to three examples. 
  • You don’t have to add a comma if the abbreviation begins in a sentence. 
  • If you have i.e. or e.g. within a sentence, you will need to put a comma before and after the abbreviation, especially when you are following the Chicago Manual of Style. Of course, you can remove the first comma if you have an em dash before the abbreviation or have placed the abbreviation in parenthesis.

I.e. vs. e.g. FAQ

Do You Need a Comma After i.e. and e.g.?

In American English, you will need a comma after the second period i.e. and e.g. For British English, you can omit the comma.

Do You Need a Period After i.e. and e.g.?

Yes, you will need a period if you use i.e. or e.g. in a sentence. Most American style guides recommend adding a period after each letter.

Is i.e. Capitalized in a Title?

No, the abbreviation i.e. is not capitalized in a title.

Is e.g. Capitalized in a Title?

No, the abbreviation e.g. is not capitalized in a title.

Final Thoughts 

Many people interchange i.e. or e.g. If you are one of them, we hope that our in-depth abbreviation comparison guide has given you a better understanding of which one you should use. 

The bottom line is the between i.e. vs e.g. is that e.g. is for listing examples, while i.e. for clarification or precise information. 

If you are still having a hard time, remember that there are other ways to elaborate or clarify a sentence – we already have enough abbreviations to worry about!

This post was proofread by Grammarly. Try it - it's FREE!

Capitalize My Title is a dynamic title capitalization tool used to make sure your titles or headlines use proper capitalization rules according to various style guides include APA, AP, MLA, and Chicago. It also counts your words and checks for grammar issues.


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