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Grammar Repair Shop: Making sense of alphabet soup

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Two abbreviations, “i.e.” and “e.g.,” are often used interchangeably in writing. But they have different meanings. When do you use one versus the other?

Both are abbreviations for Latin phrases: id est (“that is”) and exempli gratia (“for the sake of example”). Use “i.e.” when you want to rephrase for clarity, and use “e.g.” when you want to offer an example. Put a comma before and after each.


If the caller is a preferred client, i.e., a member of our VIP program, transfer the call to me.

I would be hopelessly disorganized without my electronic helpers, e.g., my Smartphone, Outlook calendar and business-card scanner.

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