Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I often hear people use the abbreviation 'i.e.' while speaking. It does not seem right to me. Similarly with 'e.g.' — I would always say 'for example' rather than 'e.g.'.

So is it appropriate to use 'i.e.' (or more generally, abbreviations) in speech?

share|improve this question

closed as primarily opinion-based by Nicole, Edwin Ashworth, Chenmunka, ScotM, tchrist Jul 2 at 18:50

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

3 Answers 3

It depends on the nature of the speech. In an informal conversation with family and friends you can say what you like. Anyone addressing an audience will speak differently. In such a context the use of abbreviations would sound careless, and possibly even vulgar, to me, but then I've no great enthusiasm for the serious use of abbreviations anyway, particularly Latin ones.

share|improve this answer

More often than not, i.e. is used pretentiously and ironically incorrectly, but it doesn't mean "for example" nor is it a synonym for exampli grati (e.g.). It means "id est" or "that is" http://dictionary.reference.com/help/faq/language/d67.html which to remember I like to think of it as "in other words".

So it's okay to use i.e. or e.g. in speech, just again don't be "that guy" who tries to sound smart but sounds like an idiot using them incorrectly.

share|improve this answer

Since it takes no longer to say "that is" than it does to say "i.e", it makes no sense to use this written abbreviation for id est.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.