Docuchatter

A blog for writers with tips on editing, proofreading and related tools.

i.e. vs e.g.

I find these two little abbreviations are mixed up more than they deserve, especially given they have zero overlap in meaning. They both stem from Latin, but that's about where the resemblance ends.

Some made up stats about i.e. use

E.g. (Latin: exempli gratia) means for example. Use e.g. to introduce an example of what you have just described. Let's see it in action:

"Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human form or other characteristics to beings other than humans e.g. Peppa Pig."

I.e. (Latin: id est) means that is, or in other words. Use i.e. to provide further explanation of what you have just described, using a different approach. What does that look like?

"Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human form or other characteristics to beings other than humans i.e. giving an animal a voice,  dressing it in clothes and having it walk on two legs like a human."

Use of i.e. should be sparing because it is re-phrasing something already stated. There are some cases where this could be required, e.g. due to a combined expert/lay person audience, but generally your first explanation should drive the point home well enough that further explanation is not required. However, i.e. can be put to good use when writing for comedic effect.

"Phoning Centrelink with anything less than 100% battery life is like breathing under water i.e. not recommended."