i.e., etc., and e.g.

by Meryl Evans | Category: Language, Meryl's Notes Blog 5 comments

A professor I work with at NYU asked me about i.e., etc., and e.g. and when to use which. First, to make it easier to remember which one means what, here’s what they mean:

i.e. – that is (stands for id est from Latin). You can also use it to substitute, “in other words.”

etc. – and so on, and the rest (abbreviation for etcetera).

e.g. – for instance, for example (abbreviation for exempli gratia in Latin). Remember e.g. by thinking of it as “example given” and then follow it with a few examples. e.g. apples, oranges, bananas.

Rule #1: Don’t use e.g. and etc. together because you wouldn’t use for instance (meaning as an example) and then use and so on (meaning others); both phrases imply the names you named were just a part of a group. For example, “e.g. apple, oranges, etc.”

Technically, you can probably use “i.e. apples, oranges, etc.” since it’s says “that is, apples, oranges, and so on.”

Rule #2: Use periods as they’re abbreviations.

Easier workaround: instead of using the abbreviation, use “for example” or “that is” and you can rarely do wrong.

Since et means and, avoid using and with etc. ect is not the same thing.

Common Errors in English has a good explanation and examples.


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