People often use e.g. and i.e. incorrectly. The abbreviation e.g. means "for example" and i.e. means "this is to say".
The abbreviation “i.e.” is the shortened form of Latin “id est” which stands for “that is”. This abbreviated sense is mostly used in statements where further clarifications on the notion are necessary.
The abbreviation “e.g.” is also an abbreviated Latin phrase “exempli gratia” which means “For the sake of example”. “e.g.” is mostly used in providing an example to a certain kind of or sort of thing that you are talking about.
|Purpose||To provide examples for the concept that is being discussed.||To provide a descriptive or definitive statement about an abstract statement already made|
|Meaning||For example||In other words; or That is to say|
|Position in the statement||It is provided at the end of a generic discussion.||Mostly found in the centre of a statement as a whole.|
|Example of Application||There are a lot of fun and useful things you can do on the Web (e.g., read or edit Wikipedia and Diffen)||The three U.S. states on the west coast (i.e. Washington, Oregon, and California) have favorable climates.|
|Usage||Used when one has to be specific about a certain thing.||Used when one is talking in generic terms.|
Usage of e.g. and i.e.
The following video explains the differences between i.e. and e.g.:
When one talks in a generic or abstract way, more information is sometimes necessary to provide a clear understanding. If one says “I'm going to the place where I work best” the statement leaves ambiguity for a listener who does not know what that place is. So one may further extend the statement as " I'm going to the place where I work best, i.e., the coffee shop". By using "i.e.", one clarifies the meaning of the sentence.
On the other hand if one is talking about a specific kind of entities in a generic way, taking them as a whole, then he will be expected to give an example for his description to make the listeners or readers understand clearly. "At the places where I work best, e.g., Starbucks, I have none of the distractions I have at home". [There are lots of places where I work best; Starbucks is an "example"].
Examples for correctly using i.e. and e.g.
Note that both i.e. and e.g. should be followed by a comma, just like "that is" or "for example" would be. Even though these are Latin abbreviations, there is no need to italicize them because they are so commonly used.
Examples for i.e.
- Allegra is an antihistamine. i.e., it relieves allergy symptoms.
- Stocks and bonds offer investors great liquidity; i.e., the ability to convert investments into cash quickly.
- The two dominant mobile operating systems — i.e., iOS and Android — account for over 95% of the market share.
Examples for e.g.
- There is a plethora of streaming devices in the market these days. e.g., Roku and Apple TV.
- New parents face many choices. e.g., whether to use cloth or disposable diapers, or whether to use infant formula or breastfeed.