Did that “ain’t” plus the i.e. and e.g. reference make you go hmm? I’m thinking if your mama taught you “ain’t” was wrong like mine did it definitely rubbed you the wrong way. When I use the word “ain’t” it’s because I want to make a point.
I grew up in the South (Virginia) and at least one person said “ain’t” around me every day I walked outside. Even if you don’t use ain’t, I.e. and E.g. are abbreviations you probably include in your writing or see in other people’s written communication. Maybe you use one or both of them. But are you using i.e. and e.g. accurately?
There’s just one problem – it’s wrong!
We build habits through our repeated actions. Let’s look at the abbreviations we use to refer to “for example”. Countless times I’ve read i.e. followed by a list of items used as examples. Whether I see it written in blog posts, articles, or social media comments there’s no shortage of this abbreviation in action. There’s just one problem – it’s wrong! Before you close the page, I urge you to keep reading.
Writers liberally sprinkle i.e. throughout their comments or website copy when they should actually be writing e.g., which means ‘for example”. By contrast, i.e. means “that is”, “in other words”, “that is to say”, or “in other words”. Using this abbreviation is meant to introduce something that will be further explained by what follows.
Don’t believe me? Take a look: https://www.merriam-webster.com/video/ie-vs-eg
Check out the correct usage of both abbreviations.
E.g. The company has fantastic benefits (e.g., 401K, generous sick leave, and vacation, etc.) which were factors he considered before accepting their job offer.I.e. The company has fantastic benefits (i.e., perks) which were factors he considered before accepting their job offer.
If you create written content personally or professionally (for your own or your client’s business) you owe it to yourself to be as accurate as possible.
As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
Focus on Your Work
If you’re thinking about using the spell/grammar check on your word processing program, I’ll say, “Don’t depend on it.” Why you ask? If you spell the word correctly but don’t use it properly, your spell and grammar checker won’t always catch your mistake.
Technology can’t replace human editing and proofreading.
I get it. You’re busy. Missing these errors doesn’t mean you’re not smart. Many of my former coworkers and managers were smart people; they were both college and non-college educated. Still, it was surprising how many people with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees got tripped up by i.e and e.g. Nobody is good at everything. It doesn’t matter whether you were careless, forgetful or didn’t know, you can’t break a bad habit until you know you have one. Let’s face it. If readers consume your written content filled with errors, they will judge you based on what they see.
If you want to put your best foot forward, sign up for my Word Dodger mini-cheat sheet. It includes reminders about i.e., e.g. and other common grammatical errors we make in our everyday writing. Then you’ll be on our mailing list and get the expanded version when it’s released. Keep it open on your browser tab while you’re writing or print it out for an easy reference.
If you need help checking your content to make sure it’s ready for prime time, reach out to me.
So tell me in the comments if these two abbreviations ever tripped you up or if you already knew the difference.
Here’s to making every touch point with you a positive one!