Academic writing often includes complex language, including two holdovers of Latin that still permeate the English language. The abbreviations “e.g.” and “i.e..” The problem is that many writers frequently misuse the two. When it comes to scholarly research, the simplest of textual errors can negate the validity of the study as a whole.
Knowing the difference between the two Latin phrases and using them correctly can make or break your research paper. Using the correct phrase isn’t so difficult once you know the meaning of each abbreviation.
The Origin of Latin in English Languages
Not too long ago, learning to speak and write in Latin was taught in classes throughout the United States. Some primary schools and higher education institutions continue the tradition. However, the majority of people in the U.S. do not speak or understand Latin.
Despite this, using “e.g.” and “i.e.” is common in all types of writing. But academic scholars are particularly fond of using Latin phrases. The translation is an important part of knowing when to use which abbreviation.
What E.G. Means
Literally defined, “e.g:'' means exempli gratia in Latin. In English, that translates to “for example.” It’s used when providing one or more examples of something mentioned in the text. The abbreviation implies that there are more examples that aren’t listed in the writing.
What I.E. Means
In the Latin language, “i.e.” means id est. It translates to “that is” in English. Its usage is to specify something already mentioned in the sentence. “I.e.” is often used in the place of “namely” or “specifically.”
Can They Be Used Interchangeably?
Many writers use “i.e.” and “e.g.” interchangeably but that is not correct. The confusion comes from misunderstanding when to use which abbreviation. There is a mnemonic cheat to help remember the proper usage.
Using the first letter of each abbreviation, the trick is to remember “i.e.” = “in other words.” and “e.g.” = “example.”
When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Use E.G.
Both “i.e.” and “e.g.” are useful in academic writing when used correctly. The popularity of the abbreviations likely relates to how fancy they look when placed in a text. The phrases elevate a research paper to the next level, but only if used in the intended manner.
Examples of E.G. vs. I.E.
Here are a few examples of the difference between e.g. and i.e.:
There were several dog breeds (e.g., Pit Bulls, Boxers, and German Shepherds,) for adoption at the shelter.
My favorite breed of dog (i.e., a Weimaraner) isn’t often found in shelters, only rescue organizations.
Jessica has too many hobbies (e.g., dancing, hiking, and reading,) that she barely has time to study.
My daughter wanted to try a new restaurant, (i.e., Pastabilities,) but it’s too expensive.
Keep a close eye on the punctuation before, during, and directly after the usage of the abbreviations. In particular, note the comma placement after the second period, like so:
Some style guides suggest using italics for the Latin terms. The letters should always be lowercase unless they start a sentence or are used in a title.
What You Can Use in Place of E.G.
If you’re still not sure how to use i.e. or e.g. correctly, you can skip their usage entirely by using a synonym. Since e.g. means “for example,” writers can easily use that in place of the Latin abbreviation. What other synonyms can replace e.g.?
● For instance
● As an illustration of
● As an example
● As a sample
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You’ve successfully navigated the treacherous territory of using e.g. and i.e. Your work has been published in scholarly journals for your peers to read. Now what? Impactio is the nation’s premier platform for networking and data analytics among the higher learning community. Published authors can track their paper’s influence and impact using Impactio.