The Difference between e.g. and i.e.

The Quick Answer
What is the difference between e.g. and i.e.?
  • e.g. means "for example" (from the Latin exempli gratia).
  • i.e. means "in other words" or "that is" (from the Latin id est).

The Difference between e.g. and i.e.

The abbreviations e.g. (from the Latin exempli gratia) and i.e. (from the Latin id est) are often confused. This is because they are both used to clarify something previously mentioned. However, they are not the same.

A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing the difference between i.e. and e.g..

e.g.

The abbreviation e.g. is used to provide an example:

Examples:
  • The buffet provided excellent variety, e.g., vegetarian and non-vegetarian soups, Italian and French breads, and numerous sweets.
  • (e.g. = for example)
  • He was the school champion of many activities (e.g., chess, badminton, 110m hurdles, and high jump).
  • (e.g. = for example)

i.e.

The abbreviation i.e. is used to restate an idea more clearly or offer more information. (It can usually be substituted with in other words.)

Examples:
  • It happened in August, i.e., two months ago.
  • (i.e. = in other words)
  • It happened in August, e.g., two months ago.
  • (Remember, e.g. means for example.)
  • Service charge is included in all prices; i.e., you don't have to leave a tip.
  • (i.e. = in other words)

Getting Them Wrong

Often confusing e.g. and i.e. does not mean your sentence is grammatically incorrect. However, getting them wrong will change the meaning of your sentence. For example:
  • All amphibians are thriving in the new pond; e.g., the two bullfrogs were being very active yesterday.
  • (This sentence is fine grammatically. From it, we infer that there are more amphibians than two bullfrogs in the pond.)
  • All amphibians are thriving in the new pond; i.e., the two bullfrogs were being very active yesterday.
  • (This sentence is fine grammatically. We infer that the only amphibians in the pond are the two bullfrogs.)

Infographic Explaining e.g. and i.e.

Here is an infographic explaining e.g. and i.e.:

ie eg difference
Infographic explaining when to use e.g. and i.e.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose?
Glossary of easily confused words Glossary of common errors Glossary of grammatical terms Abbreviations