The Difference: i.e. and e.g. (English Grammar)

E.g. (exempli gratia) is used for giving examples.


We saw many animals at the zoo (e.g. lions, tigers, and bears).

E.g. can be swapped with the phrase ‘For example‘.

We saw many animals at the zoo (for example, lions, tigers, and bears).

 

I.e. (id est) is used to clarify or define the statement that was just made.


 There were no orcas (i.e. killer whales) at the zoo.

In this sentence, i.e. means “that is” or “in other words” and it functions to define or clarify the previous word or phrase (here it is clarifying ‘orcas’, which are also called killer whales).

Here are some more examples of using i.e. to clarify a statement:

Bernardo is a Torontonian, i.e. he’s from Toronto, Canada. (i.e. clarifies that a Torontonian = someone from Toronto)

Gail is 72 years old, i.e. she’s a senior citizen, so she can get a discount. (i.e. clarifies that being 72 years old = being a senior citizen)

Peter is a Taiwanese, i.e. he’s not from China, so doesn’t have a Chinese passport. (i.e. clarifies that being Taiwanese = he is not from China)

Let’s compare e.g. and i.e. with an examples.

The teacher explained the safety rules, e.g. wearing a helmet, not smoking, and tying up long hair.

= e.g. gives some examples of which there are more possibilities.

The teacher explained Safety Rule #10, i.e. the requirement to wear a helmet.

= i.e. here clarifies that Rule #10 = wearing a helmet. It is not giving an example; it is specifically telling you what ‘Rule #10’ means.

In Summary

  • When you use i.e., you provide a further definition of the previous word or phrase.
  • When you use e.g, you give one or more examples.

Side Note: What about ‘ex.’?

Ex. or e.x. is not commonly used for examples. Instead, us e.g. In an academic context, Ex. can often mean ‘Exercise’, e.g. ‘Please do Ex. #3 and 4.’

 

I.e. vs. E.g: Quiz

Try a short quiz to see if you understand.

  1. My brother loves sports,  snowboarding, rock climbing, and bungee jumping.
  2. Please write down your blood type,‘O’, ‘A’, ‘B’, or ‘AB’, on the form.
  3. Please write down your blood type,‘A’, on the form.
  4. Anything could happen when you go skiing,you could break your leg or lost on the mountain.
  5. He suffers from arachnophobia,a fear of spiders.
Show Answers and Explanation
  1. e.g. (there are many other sports; these are just examples)
  2. i.e.  (these are all the blood types; they are not examples; the information clarifies what a blood type is.)
  3. e.g. (‘A’ is an example of a blood type; there are other blood types)
  4. e.g. (these are examples of things that could happen; many other things could happen too)
  5. i.e. (‘a fear of spiders’ defines what arachnophobia is))

If you still have questions about the difference between i.e. and e.g, please leave a comment below.

— Written by Matthew Barton of Englishcurrent.com

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