When a sentence starts with e.g., should the e be capitalized?

Neverminding that it might be better to start with "For example," ... Thinking of SE posts and comments, should the starting e be capitalized?

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    Yes, it should. Why not? – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 19:32
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    @Kit because the question was raised, and my interest was piqued. I, for one, don't do so. – jcolebrand Jun 1 '11 at 19:33
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    @jcolebrand I meant no offense. It's the first word in a sentence, so I don't see why you wouldn't capitalize it. Why don't you? – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 19:36
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    Wow, this is a community of fast typists. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 19:38
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    @jcolebrand Hmm. Well, in that case, I think you don't need to capitalize it. But then, it's not really at the beginning of a sentence in that case. Personally, I just like the way e.g. looks. Much prettier than E.g. – Kit Z. Fox Jun 1 '11 at 19:40

Yes. Sentences start with capital letters; abbreviations are no exception.

A possible* exception is when a proper name starts with a lower case letter. E.g., if I changed my name to matthew then "matthew is awesome." would be correct. This is because the word is intended to be lower case. E.g., on the other hand, has no such association with it.

* Don't make an exception. This is just playing devil's advocate. See comments.

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    If you start a sentence with van Gogh, you should capitalize the 'v'. You should never start a sentence with e.e. cummings. – Peter Shor Jun 1 '11 at 19:37
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    Indeed. van, bin and the like are arguably not part of the true name; but since they are intended to be capitalized at the beginning of a sentence, that would take precedence anyways. I would personally always start a sentence with a capital letter regardless. – Matthew Read Jun 1 '11 at 19:40
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    What about eBay or iPads? (I try to write so that I don't have to start sentences with such words, but I don't always succeed.) – Monica Cellio Jun 1 '11 at 19:55
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    @jcolebrand: Rereading the question, I don't think I've misunderstood. It seems like you are asking 'Assuming that it's OK to start a sentence with an abbreviation, do you capitalize it'. And I'm just addressing the assumption. I don't know, I'm only emphasizing the doubt by asking it as a question, I find it 'infelicitous', but in the possible world where it is allowed (possibly this one), I agree that it should be capitalized. – Mitch Jun 1 '11 at 20:42
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    This seems like a nice place for a rant. The advertising business is trying to make writing even harder for us poor commoners by violating some of the most sacred precepts of our language. I will never write anything but Ebay, Ipad (possibly I-pad or I-Pad, but I don't need this device in any case), Tomtom, Linkedin (for years I thought it was LinkedLn) etc. I call Jihad! Who's with me? Come on, there's bound to be booty! You may have the Ipads. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Jun 2 '11 at 0:39

Yes. For example is capitalized at the beginning of a sentence, so is its Latin equivalent exempli gratia, and so is its abbreviated form e.g.


Starting a sentence with e.g. is always wrong, so the question is moot. e.g. should be preceded by a description of the thing you're giving an example of, therefore e.g. should always be preceded by a comma, e.g. this sentence.

  • 3
    Since you're being a stickler and all, allow me to point out that when used in the manner above, "therefore" should be preceded by a semicolon, and followed by a comma, e.g. "... the thing you're giving an example of; therefore, e.g. should always be...." – narx Sep 14 '11 at 7:29
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    @Narx would that be tantamount to a dangling preposition there, since all semicolons are a tended to be a break in thought on the topic being semicoloned from the right (so: complete thought; new thought) and thus, the "of" in your example would be a dangler? – jcolebrand Sep 14 '11 at 15:45
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    @jcolebrand Touché. Good point about the semicolon (not a verb). But it shouldn't be "... the thing of which you're giving an example; therefore...." So awkward. Perhaps "... preceded by a description of what you're exemplifying...." In any case, I'm okay with hanging prepositions. I'm not going to walk around saying, "About what are you talking?" – narx Oct 8 '11 at 4:21
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    "Starting a sentence with e.g. is always wrong", said he and started the very next sentence with "e.g.". – RegDwigнt Oct 1 '12 at 22:17
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    Always is a very, very strong and unforgiving word. – corsiKa Oct 1 '12 at 22:23

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