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Commonly Confused Words: e.g. vs. i.e.


What does each word mean?

The abbreviation e.g. is used in a sentence to indicate that you are about to provide an example.

Here is e.g. used in some example sentences:

  • When applying for a job, make sure you check everything your potential employer will see (e.g. your CV, cover letter, application form, etc.) for spelling mistakes.
  • Spellzone has a variety of features that will help you improve your spelling, e.g. spelling tests, spelling games, and spelling lessons.

You should never use e.g. at the start of a sentence.

The abbreviation i.e. is used to clarify the information provided in a sentence.

Here is i.e. used in some example sentences:

  • When applying for a job, make sure everything your potential employer will see is spelt correctly, i.e. you should check your CV and any other documents for spelling mistakes before sending them in
  • Spellzone is used by a variety of users all whom have one thing in common, i.e. they all want to improve their spelling.

You should never use i.e. at the start of a sentence.

Where does each word come from?

The word e.g. has been used in English since the 1680s. It is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase ‘exempli gratia’ which means ‘for the sake of example’.

The word i.e. is short for the Latin ‘id est’ which literally translates to ‘that is (to say)’. Rather than providing an example of something, i.e. is used to introduce another way of saying the same thing in order to clarify meaning.

Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between these words?

  • Use the e in e.g. to help you remember that this is another way of saying ‘for example’.
  • Use the i in i.e. to help you remember that this is another way of saying ‘in essence’ or ‘in other words’.

Where can I find other posts about easy-to-confuse words?

Sources: The Online Etymology Dictionary.


12 Jul 2017
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