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I was reviewing an English text as an exercise, English not being my mother tongue, and I came to this sentence:

(...) with the two other articles that conclude several things about customers e.g.. It is (...)

Note the double periods at the end of the sentence. Now I've got a gut feeling that this isn't right, but I can't find any rules about it. Is it even 'allowed' to put 'e.g.' at the end of a sentence, where something like 'etc.' would suffice?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

First: No.

"E.g." is the abbreviated Latin phrase "exempli gratia," and it is used in place of "for example."

"E.g." is used to introduce a set of examples, which mean it needs to be followed by the examples. It cannot be correctly used to mean "et cetera," or "etc."

Here is a correct example using "e.g.": I like most flavors of ice cream, e.g., chocolate, vanilla, raspberry.

(Notice that "e.g." is followed by a comma.)

Regarding the comma. The comma is required. For reference, take a look at #48 common bug from the writing labs at Columbia University: http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~hgs/etc/writing-bugs.html. We also see this comma espoused by style guides, e.g., the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) and the American Psychological Association (APA) style guides.

Regarding using "e.g." at the end of the sentence, note that I wrote that it is used to introduce examples, which means it cannot go at the end of the sentence.

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So the 'e.g.' at the end of the sentence is incorrect, and should better be replaced by something like 'for example'? Making the sentence "(..) with the two other articles that conclude several things about customers for example. It is (..)". –  Niek Haarman Sep 18 '11 at 23:18
Yes, exactly. It is incorrect. Your solution will work fine. In this case, you still need a comma BEFORE "for example." "...about customers, for example...." –  David Bowman Sep 18 '11 at 23:26
Okay thanks, that clears things up. And that link about 'bugs in writing' will come in handy too, thanks! –  Niek Haarman Sep 18 '11 at 23:32
You made a typo in what should be exempli. –  Cerberus Sep 19 '11 at 3:12
The comma is not 'required'. Not all style guides recommend it, and The Penguin Writer’s Manual (British) gives both i.e. and e.g. without a following comma. Fowler, in Modern English Usage, says “whether a comma follows [e.g.] or not is indifferent, or rather is decided by the punctuation-pitch of the writer of the passage". –  Edwin Ashworth Apr 2 at 22:27

If you read e.g. (exempli gratia) as a general replacement for for example then you might in theory be prepared to use it at the end of a sentence if you would use for example there. In that case, ending "e.g.." would be correct.

Personally I would only ever use e.g. before the example(s). I would not put a comma after it in the way David Bowman would, though I might sometimes put a colon if I was giving a complicated list of examples separated by semi-colons; that is a matter of personal style.

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So ending with two periods would then correctly end the sentence. –  Niek Haarman Sep 18 '11 at 23:21
I suspect so - if not there is the risk that readers like me take the next word as part of the example, particularly if it is a capitalised proper name. There is less risk of this error with "etc.", which naturally ends a sentence or phrase. –  Henry Sep 18 '11 at 23:26
Indeed, ending the sentence with one period makes the following words look like they belong to the 'e.g.', to state it like that, but using two periods looks like waiting for a reaction or something (like, "He isn't here, so..") –  Niek Haarman Sep 18 '11 at 23:29
I would usually three periods for an ellipsis, so for a pause would have "e.g. ..." –  Henry Sep 18 '11 at 23:34
If you end a sentence with an abbreviation, the two periods get coalesced into one. –  Peter Shor Sep 19 '11 at 1:49

E.g. stands for the Latin exempli gratia and means for instance. So it can never replace etc., which stands for et cetera and means and the rest.

  • A comma may or may not follow e.g.. For example: In some sports (e.g. soccer, hockey) there is an offside rule. Female marsupials (e.g., kangaroos, opossums) have a pouch.

Therefore, either the sentence made a mistake and used e.g. instead of etc., or it placed e.g. in a rare position (at the end of the sentence). After further discussion it appears that the first option is more likely. in this case, the following would be appropriate:

(...) with the two other articles that conclude several things about customers etc.

Note that it does not have two periods.

Though it is unusual for e.g. to come at the end of a sentence, I have never heard that usage disallowed. Wherever one would write for example, one could just as well write e.g., as far as I have ever seen. As for the double periods, it is usual to drop the period when e.g. or etc. comes before a full stop, but when it comes before anything else, the period is retained. (See the link above for examples.)

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My feeling is indeed that the writer used e.g. where he shouldn't. Earlier in the text, he is writing about customers, salesmen etc, which he wants to refer to in this sentence. –  Niek Haarman Sep 18 '11 at 23:25

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