The Difference Between I.E. and E.G.

One of the most common grammar glitches is confusion over the abbreviations i.e. and e.g. In fact, most copyeditors will replace these with the more recognizable English terms “that is” or “for example” to avoid any confusion. If you do want to use them, here’s a simple explanation and way of remembering which is which:

i.e. is an abbreviation for the Latin term id est, or “that is.” You use it to restate what you just said using different words.

I like the old black-and-white “women’s” movies, i.e., the ones featuring actresses like Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn as strong, single women.

You can substitute “that is” or even a colon to get the same idea across. An easy way to remember the meaning of i.e. is to remember the “i” and think of it as “In other words.”

e.g. is an abbreviation for the Latin term exempli gratia meaning “for the sake of example.” You use it before a list of examples that is not complete.

I like the old black-and-white “women’s” movies, e.g., Bringing Up Baby, Jezebel, and The Philadelphia Story.

An easy way to remember the meaning of e.g. is to remember the “e” and “g” and think of it as “for EGgsample.” Again, you could substitute “for example” or a colon to get across the same point.

Here is another way to remember the difference between i.e. and e.g.: Don’t confuse i.e. and e.g. I.e., use i.e. to mean “in other words” and e.g. to mean “for example.”


Nancy Peske is a ghostwriter, developmental editor, and book publishing consultant who has done editorial work on books including bestsellers and award-winners for over 30 years.