Ie and eg are Latin abbreviations. Ie replaces idest and stands for 'that is'. Eg replaces exempli gratia . This combination means 'for example' - for example.
How to remember the difference between Ie and Eg?
We certainly do not force you to learn Latin. English is enough for you! If in practice you often have to deal with written texts - you create them or read them - then these two abbreviations are sure to be called 'puzzle you from time to time'. How to remember what they mean?
To begin with, we suggest that you forget their translation and Latin equivalents altogether. Let's try this: ie has an i, which stands for 'in other words'. eg has e - 'example'.
Where and how to use ie and eg?
Eg stands for "for example". Therefore, we insert this abbreviation to provide some examples:
Buy some vegetables, e.g., carrots.
Ie means "that is". This expression is needed to enter an explanation, detail into the sentence:
The three U.S. states on the west coast (i.e., Washington, Oregon and California) have favorable climates.
If you're still not sure if you can use these abbreviations, don't despair: you can always replace them with 'in other words' and 'for example'. After all, there is no doctrine or guideline for the mandatory use of Latin designations.
Do's and Don'ts
- In written texts, do not italicize ie and eg. Although these are Latin expressions, they have long been an integral part of the English language and are quite familiar to native speakers. Therefore, there is no need to separate them somehow.
- It is also recommended to put a comma after ie and eg. Don't be surprised if a spelling and punctuation check underlines that comma. 95% of grammar references recommend this punctuation mark. But remember: the comma is "promoted" by American English speakers, the British advocate its omission.
- Avoid using ie and eg in spoken language. Latin abbreviations are still the property of the written language. In conversation, 'in other words' and 'for example' are just right.
- Many insert at the end of the list of examples etc. This is completely unnecessary, because using eg already implies an incomplete list.