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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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« Good Word to Know: "Polymath" | Main | 10 Etiquette Tips for Business Text Messages »

March 14, 2018


Tommaso Caldarola

Good post. Being not fluent English it is a doubt I have always had.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Tommaso, I am glad you found the post helpful.


George Raymond

Here in Europe, where many readers' first language isn't English, I don't use e.g. and i.e. for the reasons you mention. They're also missing from US newspapers, for whom clarity is vital.


I always forget which is which. Thank you, Lynn, for this very helpful post!


Here's a memory aid:
e.g. = "example given"

i.e. = "in essence"

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

George, when I read your comment about newspapers, I checked two of my style guides. I was surprised that "The Associated Press Stylebook" says nothing about avoiding the use of the abbreviations. However, "The Canadian Press Caps and Spelling" says to avoid "e.g." and to prefer "that is" over "i.e." The Canadians got it mostly right.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Kim, I'm glad to be helpful. Thanks for commenting.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Sally,

If those memory aids work for you, excellent! I had not heard them before.


James Martin Gonzaga

Hello, Lynn. I’ve been using these two preceded by a semi-colon instead of a comma. Is that okay?


Wow! Thank you for this post, Lynn. It was very helpful for me.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi James,

Thanks for your question. I checked "The Chicago Manual of Style," which agrees with your approach. It recommends a semicolon and sometimes a dash, but its examples seem more complex than mine.

I've changed my original post from 2006 ("I.e.--Don't Even Think About It") to reflect that information.


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thamara, thanks for taking the time to comment.


Herbert Eppel

Coincidentally, the German Duden calendar featured i.e. and i.e., plus re, a few days before your helpful post – see :-)

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Interesting, Herbert! My German is not good enough to have digested it.


Erwin Timmerman

Good article. Personally, I avoid the use of e.g. and i.e. altogether, because it not only confuses people, but IMO sounds a bit formal and pompous as well: look ma, I can use difficult words now! Personally, I find no reason to use "e.g." over "for example", other than space reasons, in which case it is usually possible to remove "for example" completely, as you have shown. Thanks for the explanation and the alternatives.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Erwin, thanks for your comment. We agree!


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