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Is it appropriate to use "e.g." in a sentence without using parentheses?

  1. This administrative access control should provide visibility into access via multiple vectors (e.g. group access rights versus individual account rights).
  2. This administrative access control should provide visibility into access via multiple vectors e.g. group access rights versus individual account rights.
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Parentheses here serve exactly the same purposes as elsewhere. If the author means to parenthesize the list of examples, he may do so. Beyond that it not specific in any way to giving examples as such in any way. Your doubt is misplaced. –  Kris Jan 19 '12 at 8:48
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It is certainly appropriate to use "e.g." in a sentence without deploying parentheses. In your Example 2, I would place a comma before "e.g.". Parenthesizing examples is purely the prerogative of the author, usually serving as a means of indicating the perceived importance of the examples to the thought being expressed.

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Because "e.g." normally introduces an apposition, it is best to put a comma before it. A comma before it is rarely necessary. –  Cerberus Jan 4 '11 at 23:09
    
The usage with just a preceding comma is now quite common, and I think would generally be considered correct at least in informal writing; but traditionally, I believe it was considered incorrect, and in formal writing I think many people would still consider it wrong. For instance, in the OED citations, the only example of this form is marked with an asterisk, meaning that it would now be considered ungrammatical: What if they hold, *e.g. Arrianism, Socinianism, Manichisme, &c.‥ Are they not Heretical? –  PLL Jan 5 '11 at 0:30
    
The Chicago Manual of Style takes the same position (at least as a matter of style, if not grammar): Chicago style is to use these two-character abbreviations only within parentheses or in notes. Always put a comma after either of them. On the other hand, Garner’s Modern American Usage quite happily uses it with no parentheses or preceding comma: This has been achieved in some cases […] by separating technical information e.g., Latin names, chemical formulae, from the rest of the definition[…] –  PLL Jan 5 '11 at 0:31
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Actually, a comma should be placed before and after if the abbreviation is not parenthesized. The same is true for i.e. (the other commonly used Latin abbreviation). See below:

  1. Soups often contain a variety of vegetables, e.g., carrots, peas, celery, corn, and squash.

  2. My favorite soup has many vegetables, i.e., vegetable soup.

The same sentences can be written with the abbreviations in parentheses, where the comma is still required "after" the abbreviation but should not be placed "before" (in American English anyway). See again below:

  1. Soups often contain a variety of vegetables (e.g., carrots, peas, celery, corn, and squash).

  2. My favorite soup has many vegetables (i.e., vegetable soup).

Either method is grammatically correct, at least according to American English standards, and choosing to eliminate the parentheses has become quite common (and is perfectly acceptable) in most forms of writing.

However, as others noted, many style guides for formal writing, including APA (which was not previously mentioned) mandate the parenthetical use of these and most other Latin abbreviations within text. The one common exception is use of "et al.," which can be used within or without parentheses in text and reference sections. I don't understand the rationale; since the abbreviations and the parentheses both denote examples or additional explanation provided, use of both seems redundant. Nonetheless, if you're writing for academic or scientific purposes, you will most likely be at the mercy of a style-guide enforcer, so it is best to comply.

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Two quick points. First, do not use quotation marks for emphasis — you end up saying the exact opposite thing of what you want to say. Second, the sentence "My favorite soup has many vegetables, i.e., vegetable soup." does not make sense in English and is indeed ungrammatical. ("My favorite soup has vegetable soup" is not something a native speaker would produce.) You were probably aiming for "My favorite soup has many vegetables, i.e. it's a vegetable soup" or some such. –  RegDwigнt Dec 8 '12 at 11:53
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One other thing about your example: there should also be a comma after e.g. (exactly as you would if you were using the words for example).

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I think you mean "before". –  Mechanical snail Oct 2 '12 at 7:15
    
I think you mean "colon". –  Timtech Sep 3 '13 at 22:16
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protected by RegDwigнt Dec 8 '12 at 11:55

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