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In a bulleted list of very technical sentences, where each bulleted item has one or two parenthetical examples or restatements which are complete sentences, should the first letter of each e.g. or i.e. sentence be capitalized or not?

Example:

  • Here is my technical sentence. (e.g., Should the first word of this e.g. be capitalized like this?)
  • Here is another technical sentence. (i.e., this really isn't a i.e. different example to highlight whether the first word should or should not be capitalized after a parenthetical i.e.)
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For me this is clearly a EL&U question, therefore I will vote to close as off-topic. Besides that, a sentence starts normally with upper-case, doesn't matter if it is written in parentheses or not. So it would be: (I.e., should the word ...) –  John Smithers Aug 8 '11 at 8:45
    
Agreed. (I'm not sure of the grammatical correctness of using parentheses outside a sentence. They're kind of like an impromptu footnote... Handy, though!) –  Standback Aug 8 '11 at 9:23
    
possible duplicate of Can I start a sentence with "i.e."? –  KitFox Aug 9 '11 at 18:10
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

A parenthetical statement that is a complete sentence should begin with a capital. Your examples are wrong, however, because you should begin by capitalizing the first letter of the abbreviation i.e. or e.g.:

Here is my technical sentence. (E.g., should the word of this example be capitalized like this?)

Here is another technical sentence. (I.e., this really isn't an i.e., I just want to know if the first word should or should not be capitalized and am providing an example of yes and no.)

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What you say is true, but I must admit I don't really like capitalising "I.e." and "E.g." in this way. I find mostly it works fine if you just omit it altogether. –  FumbleFingers Aug 8 '11 at 17:18
    
@FumbleFinges - In the vast majority of situations I totally agree. Unfortunately, in this case, because some of the list items' parentheticals were examples while others were explanatory, I felt that the most concise and coherent approach was with explicit i.e.'s and e.g.'s. –  A Lion Aug 11 '11 at 1:16
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First, as a matter of style, I would avoid using i.e. and e.g. altogether. These are Latin abbreviations whose actual meaning is lost on most native English speakers and almost all readers coming from another native language.

Second, they have similar meaning, but are not equivalent. See http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/e.g.html for a concise explanation.

Third, writers typically mean "for example" or "such as" when they use e.g. and i.e. Better IMHO to simply write what you mean and be done with it.

To answer the original question: in your last example, the answer is simple. Using e.g. or i.e. would be unnecessary and possibly grammatically incorrect in this construction. The passage is perfectly clear as:

"As we discussed, you will bring two items. (A sleeping bag and a tent are not optional.)"

Note that the period goes inside the parentheses. It does not add any information, though it is not incorrect, to say:

"As we discussed, you will bring two items. (For example, a sleeping bag and a tent are not optional.)"

"As we discussed, you will bring two items. (That is, a sleeping bag and a tent are not optional.)"

All that said, if either e.g. or i.e. begins a sentence, it should be capitalized.

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