The Remedy of the Week: e.g. or i.e.?

Each week proofreader Hannah Jones discusses and offers a remedy to common problems we encounter when writing. Today she demonstrates when e.g. and i.e. should be used.

The abbreviations e.g. and i.e. are often confused, leading to them being used almost interchangeably, but there is an important distinction between the two. Using them correctly ensures you are able to get your intended meaning across.


The abbreviation e.g. is short for the Latin phrase exempli gratia, meaning 'for example'. As such, it is used to introduce a non-finite list of examples and can be used in place of 'such as'. 

In third year, students at Hogwarts are able to choose two additional subjects, e.g. Muggle Studies and Care of Magical Creatures.

Here, two examples are given – Muggle Studies and Care of Magical Creatures – but it is not an exhaustive list of the subjects Hogwarts students can choose.


The abbreviation i.e. is also short for a Latin phrase: id est, meaning 'that is'. It is used when giving an explanation and can be used in place of 'in other words'. 

From first to fifth year, all Hogwarts students must take the seven core subjects, i.e. Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Herbology, Astronomy and History of Magic.

Here, the list given is exhaustive; it is the equivalent of the seven core subjects.

The remedy

Use e.g. to introduce an example; use i.e. to introduce an explanation or an equivalent.

You may find it helpful to think of the 'e' of e.g. as standing for 'for Example' and the 'i' in i.e. as standing for 'In other words'.

Hannah Jones is a professional freelance proofreader and owner of The Remedy of Errors.

Visit her website at The Remedy of Errors. She can also be found on Twitter @remedyoferrorsFacebook and LinkedIn.