People sometimes confuse the abbreviations e.g and i.e. in their writing, and can use them interchangeably. But both abbreviations have specific uses, and once you’re clear on what they stand for it’s much easier to use them correctly.
What do e.g. and i.e. stand for?
Both e.g. and i.e. are abbreviations of Latin phrases:
They have both been in English usage for centuries. The first recorded date of usage in the Oxford English Dictionary is 1682 for e.g. and 1662 for i.e.
A simple way of remembering the difference between the two terms is to think of e.g. as an abbreviation of ‘example given’ and i.e. as an abbreviation of ‘in essence’.
Both e.g. and i.e. are always written in lower case text, and generally are not followed by a comma in British English (unlike US English, where the most common practice is to write e.g., i.e.,).
Usually e.g. and i.e. are preceded by a comma or enclosed in brackets together with the words following e.g. and i.e. (the latter is more common in academic work).
When to use e.g.
Many northern urban centres have recently undergone regeneration, e.g. Sheffield, Leeds, Newcastle and Liverpool.
A range of different plants can be used in hanging baskets (e.g. pansies, begonias, fuschia and trailing ivy).
Several studies have suggested that social mobility has reduced over the past two decades (e.g. Hout 2004; Blanden et al. 2005; Corak 2006; d’Addio 2007; Dorling 2010).
When to use i.e.
He could not function in the morning before having his favourite drink, i.e. a black coffee.
Many people had given me the same advice, i.e. that I should take the job.