Did You Know: 'eg' & 'ie' Don't Have The Same Meaning. Here's How To Use Them In Sentences

No, they are not interchangeable.

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In a country like Malaysia, learning multiple languages is nothing out of the ordinary, as the average Malaysian is expected to at least be bilingual

With such linguistic diversity, it's no wonder why we often get acronyms or abbreviations mistaken from time to time.

And one of the biggest misconceptions is the use of Latin abbreviations 'eg' and 'ie'. Not limited to textbooks and novels, plenty of writing material often contain both as a means to provide context to what was written.

Yet, we sometimes confuse how each abbreviation should be used, or whether we are phrasing them in a proper circumstance. To ease the frequent confusion, we did our research to find out just how eg and ie should be used.

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Here's how to use 'eg' and 'ie' accurately:

1. 'eg' is used to provide a list of examples

According to the dictionary platform Merriam Webster, 'eg' comes from the Latin phrase exempli gratia, and is used to mean "for example".

While the idea behind using 'eg' is to provide examples, it is not limited to using it in the context of multiple examples. Normally, commas are used in between the list items to differentiate them.

Although the style of usage differs from various forms of writing, it is widely accepted that one uses parentheses when writing the list. Oftentimes, readers may notice that the list items are italicised. Nevertheless, it is not a requirement when drafting your sentence, and is mostly used as a method to make it easier to read and more understandable.

Here are some examples using 'eg' as provided by innovative platform, AmeriLingua:
1. My school offers many outdoor sports (eg, soccer, football, rugby) to students
2. I'm thinking of going overseas after I graduate, eg, France, Italy or Germany

It was also stated that when using 'eg', the Latin abbreviation 'etc', which stands for et cetera, should not be used. This is because 'etc' is used to indicate unnamed items that are also part of the list while 'eg' itself incorporates what is listed.

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2. 'ie' is used to explain a word that may not be understood by the reader

Though 'eg' is meant to carry a list of examples, 'ie' is meant to just explain a single term.

Bearing the phrase id est in Latin, the word itself means "that is", which is indicated to explain a term unknown to the reader. On top of that, it can also be used to clarify a statement that the writer included.

While 'eg' is often used with parentheses, 'ie' may be used with either parentheses, brackets, commas, or a dash.

Here are some examples also provided by AmeriLingua:
1. Marco was feeling under the weather (ie, feeling sick), so he didn't go to school today
2. The hotel offers one meal - ie, breakfast – for free daily
3. The hotel offers a discount to seniors, ie, 10% off their stay
4. Research found greater social interaction (ie, they were friendlier) between female lions when in captivity than with their male counterparts
5. The tub in my home has odd yellow stains on it even after cleaning. The plumber told me the stains were due to hard water (ie, high levels of dissolved magnesium and calcium)

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That's it — just as simple

Just remember, the next time you think they're the same, they're not!

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Image via AmeriLingua

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