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Can I use "exempli gratia" (short for e.g.) in place of "for example?" If so, do I need to add any words to it to completely replace the phrase "for example?"

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I don't think it will make you look at all smart. People will think you're a poser. –  FumbleFingers Jan 18 '12 at 1:46
    
Thanks everyone! I guess I'll pass on the "exempli gratia" –  David Jan 18 '12 at 1:50
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No, it would not be a good idea. In general, Latin sounds affected, not smart. Just use e.g., and say something smart in English. ;) –  Daniel Jan 18 '12 at 1:54
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I sometimes like writing free samples in lieu of e.g., just to see who appreciates the joke. –  tchrist Jan 18 '12 at 2:18
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"exempli gratia" is NOT (short for e.g.), it is the other way round. After that, there are more things to know, please see the answers below. –  Kris Jan 18 '12 at 6:52
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5 Answers

No, don't do that.

Unless, of course, you know that gratiā has a long ā at the end, and is therefore in the Ablative case; and you know that exemplī has a long ī at the end, and is therefore in the Genitive case; and you know what those cases mean, and you know how the phrase is constructed out of them.

In Latin. If you do, then go right ahead.

Otherwise, don't try to sound smart; try to be smart. If you can't do that, don't try to fake it; just don't attract too much attention.

Executive Summary: e.g. is shorter.

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Very well said! But why not just spell it out in English, viz. ‘for example’? ☺ –  tchrist Jan 18 '12 at 2:17
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Hm, exemplī could also be in the nominative plural instead of the genitive singular. Except that then it would have to be grātiīs, which is why you know that exemplī was actually in the genitive singular all along. Latin inflections are like a big algebraic puzzle sometimes, full of unknowns that you go zeroing in on as the pieces fall together, but with letters instead of numbers. You look at bella and wonder if that’s the adjective for pretty or the noun for war, and only the rest of the sentence will tell you. Look around for a cāsus bellī, or maybe even a cāsus bellōrum. ☺ –  tchrist Jan 18 '12 at 2:26
    
Yeah, I tell my students that Latin color-codes all the words to mark the phrases, so word order isn't very important. –  John Lawler Jan 18 '12 at 3:38
    
It also helps if they know that exemplī < exemplum is a 2ⁿᵈ-declension neuter, not a 2ⁿᵈ-declension masculine *exemplus. You won’t pick that up from an unmarked gratia, although as you point out, knowing it’s actually gratiā not gratia steers them away from wondering whether it’s an nonexistent adjective in neuter plural agreement. The Romans seemed to do ok without macrons, just as I do with Italian words. I think they could hear it in their heads, so didn’t need the diacritics. Still, beginners are more apt to get Spanish diabólico right than the unmarked version in Italian. –  tchrist Jan 18 '12 at 13:07
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There’s also the musical pitch/tone theory from ancient Greek being present in archaic Latin, then that giving way to syllable length, then that giving way to syllable stress (which is actually tonal, but perhaps differently, and certainly not phonemically). Your point about Latin’s having been syllable-timed is a really important one. People underestimate the differences between stress- and syllable-timed languages. Compare how different syllable-timed Brazilian Portuguese sounds than does stress-timed European Portuguese. Vowel-length in Finnish is interesting, as is tone in Swedish. –  tchrist Jan 18 '12 at 16:18
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No, you don't need anything else. It can be used as is. But trying to "sound smart" in essays is usually counterproductive. I would not advise using it.

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You presumed the abbreviation, not the full form. OP means to use the full form I believe. –  Kris Jan 18 '12 at 6:48
    
I don't follow you Kris. The full form can be used without adding any other words to complete it. –  Brett Reynolds Jan 18 '12 at 12:15
    
I don't think we could use the full form in a regular English sentence as such, we only use the abbreviation. Or am I missing something here? –  Kris Jan 18 '12 at 12:45
    
Not common, and anachronistic but certainly possible. Consider: "Referring to Francis, he wrote, 'He has changed a great deal. Exempli gratia, he is happy... He knows everyone at Oxford.'" From the early part of the 20th century. –  Brett Reynolds Jan 18 '12 at 13:11
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If you're looking for an alternative to for example, you can use for instance. It's what I mostly use.

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On the odd chance that you actually meant to ask if you could use e.g. in place of for example, the answer is: Yes. Absolutely.

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exempli gratia comes from Latin. Your essay is in English and we use it in English with its short form e.g., so e.g. has become more or less English word. So your question is like - "Am I going to look like smart panties using a Latin expression in essay in English". Most probably not- it depends in the way you are using it an it that case it is not a good idea. It is the same with etc. -it is also sometimes spelled et caetera, et coetera or et cœtera and is often abbreviated to etc.

My point is - we use etc. and e.g. in formal texts, but you are writing an essay - so most probably you are going to show that you don't know what is used in formal and informal text in English.

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