Difference Between i.e. and eg. (With Table)

Acronyms and abbreviations have always been confusing yet used in nearly all literature and scientific reports especially. The commonest of them are i.e and eg. usually are used distinctly but many times the commoners do not know the significant differences both the abbreviations possess. Using them interchangeably is wrong in many ways.

These terms have been serving the purpose of shortening and delivering meanings without making the literature bulky and repetitive. One should consider them as the functional units of language (written only). Hence, the differences between the two are explained in this article.

i.e vs e.g.

The difference between i.e and eg. is that i.e is the abbreviation of the term ‘that is’ whereas eg simply stands for ‘example’. The difference in their meaning is simple and quantified but the real problem starts when we consider their usability in the written form of English. Also, not only do the terms possess a lot of importance in the general appearance of the textual data but also, their usability can convert a ‘statement’ into a ‘sentence’.

When we use the abbreviation i.e. we usually want to deliver the meaning, “that is”. I.e. is a word that is used to reiterate something that has already been expressed to explain its meaning. And the abbreviation is very commonly used in the field of science or mathematics or any field that deals with derivatives and equations or simply categorizations. This particular abbreviation has been used since the 16th century!

On the other hand, we have another commonly used abbreviation which is e.g. It is the abbreviated form of the term “example”. This again is commonly used in sciences rather than in fresh literature. A very interesting fact about these abbreviations is that they are never used in any literary sculpture. In simple words, they are used for ease of work, not for any ornamental purpose, hence they offer functionality in the field of written English especially focused on sciences and mathematics.

Comparison Table Between i.e. and e.g.

Parameters of Comparisoni.e.e.g.
MeaningIt stands for the term; That is. Used to state a fact that has already been stated by the reference of the consecutive term.It stands for the term; example. Meaning; one that serves as a pattern to be imitated or not to be imitated. The common usage in science and other sister fields.
Origin and etymologyI.e. stands for id est, which means “that is.” It introduces a rewording or a clarification. the original term is derived from Latin English. It has been used since the 16th century.E.g. stands for exempli gratia in Latin, which means “for example”. It has been used much later than i.e. around the late 16th to early 17th century.
How to useMost commonly used to denote something that has already been stated like a scientific reference or a theory in the case of mathematics.Usually is used to denote something with a similar structure or model or orientation. The usage usually is limited to social sciences and sciences.
Synonymous termswhich is, especially, particularly, specially, specifically.for instance, such as, like, similar to, namely.
UsageThese abbreviations are used for ease of usage. Some examples are:  
1. The solar system is a part of the milky way galaxy i.e: the galaxy with thousands of systems in it.
Similar to i.e., e.g. is also operational in usage to reduce the word limit and unnecessary bulk. Some usage examples are:  
1. There are many types of plants e.g. herbs, shrubs, trees, climbers etcetera.
2. There are many carriage-cum-passenger airplanes e.g. Antonov-225 Airbus.

What is i.e?

The very commonly used abbreviation used since the early 16th century is an operational literary device to improve precision and reduce bulk in the world of science and mathematics. The meaning of i.e is ‘that is and is derived from a Latin word, id est meaning the same as its original meaning. Its introduction had the same purpose as every other abbreviation, to shorten the space and deliver more clarity.

A common mistake that many typists and writers make when considering abbreviations like these is that they change the modulus of the letters. Usage of capital or small is irrespective of their usage because they are just two letters that quantify a certain meaning. In the case of i.e., it quantifies the meaning of ‘that is’, similarly in case of e.g. the letters quantify the meaning of ‘example’. Hence, they can be considered symbols rather than words. The use of uppercase or lowercase is sincerely wrong when using abbreviations like these.

Another interesting fact about this particular abbreviation is that it is from the most commonly used Latin-derived abbreviation. The most often used acronyms in everyday life come from this ancient language and range from 16th to 18th century in origin.

What is e.g.?

Just like the previous abbreviation, e.g. is another commonly used Latin-derived abbreviation that serves a very important function in modern texts and research peppers as well as explanation-centric documents written in the English language. The factual meaning of e.g. is ‘example’.

For example, this word is quite often used by many of us and carries an important role when describing something similar to the subject or topic and to shorten the bulk in a text-based document we use its abbreviated form which is e.g. The Latin word which is considered as the parent of this abbreviation is, exempli gratia which translates to the same meaning of similar things or same models.

It is usually subject to a distinct abbreviation used commonly in scientific reports, researches, or anything with the concept of categories and similar entities. These abbreviations are tools for ease of usage and reduction of big words which carry no singular meaning, as well as yet carry an important function just like the usage of numbers in an equation, alphabets in sentences, etc. These are required in many texts and documents, especially research papers and social-science research papers.

Formal abbreviations like these two, aren’t used for ornamental purposes in textual data or the enrichment of “language”. They simply act as a tool for less complexity and more detailed generation of documents. Plus it helps in containing the important things within a given word limit.

Main Differences Between i.e. and e.g.

  1. I.e stands for ‘that is’ whereas e.g. is the abbreviation of ‘example’.
  2. I.e has two different letters orientation and is being used since the 16th century, but e.g. has a different orientation and is being used much later when compared to i.e.
  3. I.e. is derived from ‘id est’ a Latin word and e.g. is also derived from a Latin word ‘exempli gratia’ but with a different meaning.
  4. I.e. is more used in science and mathematics but e.g. is commonly used in every field containing similar categories and models.
  5. Both the abbreviations are commonly used but when compared, e.g. is more commonly used since it is not subject-specific.


Abbreviations are very important tools in written literature because it serves many purposes starting from briefing the content to pinpoint the preciseness of the topic. Both i.e. and e.g. are used very commonly and are both of Latin origin. They are very much used by people who write research papers and reports.

Although Latin is an indigenous text, a large number of Latin contractions are still used regularly in modern English, and not just in scholarly writing. While many Latin abbreviations are straightforward. Hence, i.e. and e.g. can be used quite effectively if all the rules of English are followed precisely.


  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/example#:~:text=1%20%3A%20one%20that%20serves%20as,of%20a%20group%20or%20type
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/i.e.#:~:text=Hint%3A%20The%20abbreviation%20i.e.%20is,%2C%20meaning%20%22that%20is.%22
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