Is it just me, or have you noticed that these two abbreviations are often used interchangeably? They shouldn’t be! While i.e. and e.g. are both abbreviations for Latin terms, i.e. stands for id est and means roughly “that is” or “in other words,” while e.g. stands for exempli gratia, which means “for example.” Not the same thing at all.
Here’s a trick from Grammar Girl for remembering the difference — i.e., which starts with i, means “in other words,” and e.g., which starts with e, means “for example.”
I = in other words
Also, be sure to use appropriate commas, periods, and parentheses. In the two examples below, both abbreviations are surrounded by commas and/or parentheses.
- Please arrive home on time, i.e., 6 p.m.
- Please follow the rules (e.g., getting home by 6 p.m.).