Difference between i.e and e.g

I.e. (in other words) vs e.g. (for example)

 I.e. and e.g. are very similar in meaning and can often be confused in their applications but the very basic essence of i.e. and e.g. must be known in order to correct any mistakes that may happen. I.e. and e.g. are two Latin abbreviations where i.e. stands for id est which means ‘in other words’ and e.g. is the abbreviated form of exempli gratia which means ‘for example’. This basic difference or the meaning of these two abbreviations must be kept clear in mind to understand the proper difference in the usage of i.e. and e.g.

Difference Chart

I.e. E.g.
Meaning I.e. stands for ‘in other words’. E.g. stands for ‘for example’.
Usage I.e. is used to give the alternative description or further clarification on a topic. E.g. is used to introduce an example.
Preference I.e. should not be used in general sentences where the words ‘that is’ can be better used. E.g. can be used in all kinds of sentences.
Position I.e. is very rarely used to begin a sentence. E.g. can form the beginning of a sentence.
Nature I.e. has most of its usage in the parenthetical statements. E.g. finds a place in all sorts of statements which can be backed up with an example.


 I.e. is the Latin abbreviation for id est and id est roughly translates to ‘in other words’ in English. It is mostly used when a topic is being explained, and the writer feels the need for further description. This can be added by describing the whole event in a different tone of language by adding ‘i.e.’ in the beginning so that the whole paragraph does not look very repetitive. I.e. is mostly used in professional writing or while writing something very subjective as the need for clarifications arise in these cases a lot. It is also read as ‘that is’ while reading in a simple sentence and implies that a variation in the language of the same content follows ahead. It can be used in various places like,

  1. The Pythagoras Theorem i.e. the one which proves that the (base)² + (perpendicular)² is equal to the (hypotenuse)² in case of a right angled triangle, kept the base for geometry and its slow advancement to 3D geometry.
  2. Chelsea, i.e. our little pet dog, is all set for its first dog festival and we can be no less excited.


E.g. is the Latin abbreviation for exempli gratia which translates to ‘for example’ in English. It is used to give the further reference over a topic, or to make it clearer to the reader or viewer by the help of examples. When a subject is explained, it registers more in the minds of the reader if it is backed by an example. Hence, to introduce an example that is coming up in a sentence, e.g. is used so that the reader knows beforehand that an example is going to follow. It can be used in various places with various meanings, such as,

  1. All the economically backwards countries were then called the third world countries. E.g.- India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Africa, Korea, etc.
  2. They have a huge collection of footwear. E.g.- Boots, shoes, slippers, flats, slip-ons, etc.

Key Differences

  1. The major difference between i.e. and e.g. is in its usage where i.e. is used to further clarify a topic in the language description basis and e.g. is used to clarify by giving supporting examples to the topic.
  2. I.e. stands for id est and can be read as ‘in other words’ or ‘that is’, but e.g. stands for exempli gratia and can be read as, ‘for example’.
  3. I.e. adds a new description to the subject which can be very detailed and well-structured. E.g. adds no description or structure to a subject and simply backs something with valid examples.
  4. I.e. is very rarely used in the daily language or the simple language of writing that we use but e.g. has slowly become an integral part of the regular vocabulary of the people.
  5. I.e. is never used to open or begin a sentence on its own. It always needs to have a background theory which is further being explained. E.g. can be used to begin a new sentence, following a plain statement or sometimes, nothing at all.
  6. I.e. has a very exclusive usage and cannot be added to plain sentences to make them grammatically rich. But e.g. is very simple to use and can be used in all types of sentences.
  7. I.e. is never used in spoken word but e.g. is sometimes put such that it can be a part of the vocal dictionary as well.

Video Explanation

Therefore we see that i.e. and e.g. are two very close abbreviations which can be mixed during their usage, but by keeping these differences in mind, such grammatical errors can be avoided.

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