I often see e.g. used by non-native English speakers in the middle of a sentence like this:

Along with custom software, our services include e.g. consulting, integration, auditing and networking.


We have more experience of this, and especially e.g. complete solutions are our specialty.

Now e.g. is an abbreviation Latin exempli gratia, meaning for example.

But this usage sounds a bit unnatural to my ear. They are using e.g. where I would expect to find for example. But to me, e.g. isn't quite a drop-in replacement for for example, and the rule I have in my head is that the part of the sentence before e.g. needs to be a complete sentence, that the e.g. part is almost parenthetical.

For example, "Along with custom software, our services include" and "We have more experience of this, and especially" are not full sentences on their own.

This one looks fine to me:

I like citrus fruits, e.g., tangerines, lemons, and limes.

Because "I like citrus fruits" works as a complete sentence.

A similar thing applies to i.e. ("that is" – id est).

I've tried searching for guidance that says if this a rule of the English but have been unable to find anything explicit other than examples of this second form.

  1. What are the rules in English for using e.g. and i.e. in the middle of a sentence?

  2. Why can't e.g. (and i.e.) be used as drop in replacements for for example (and that is)?

  3. Are there any reputable references for this rule?

  • Don't try and hide that original edit :) I saw something there... – BladorthinTheGrey Dec 19 '16 at 16:15
  • @BladorthinTheGrey What edit? Just Loungin' Around :) – Hugo Dec 19 '16 at 16:16

It is an unusual construction, yes. I'd argue neither of your examples warrant the inclusion of e.g. (or i.e for that matter).

Along with custom software, our services include consulting, integration, auditing and networking.

We have more experience of (sic) this, and especially complete solutions are our specialty.

(Note: I'd replace of in the second example with with, and remove the especially.)

If you'd like it in simple terms, I'd say it's incorrect and would correct both instances were I editing their work.


According to the Chicago Manual of Style:

  • Both are abbreviations for Latin phrases: id est (“that is”) and exempli gratia (“for the sake of example”). So use “i.e.” when you want to rephrase something you’ve already said, and use “e.g.” when you want to offer an example. Put a comma before and after; avoid using both in the same sentence; and try not to use either in formal prose. And (a bonus tip) if you start a list with “e.g.,” there’s no need to put “etc.” at the end.

The usage in the sentences you cite appears "unusual". I.e. and e.g. are used to introduce examples or additional information to clarify a concept expressed in a sentence.

  • The abbreviation e.g.—short for the Latin phrase exempli gratia—means for example. It is different from i.e.—short for the Latin id est—which means that is, namely, or in other words. The two are sometimes mixed up, but other than being abbreviations of Latin phrases, they share no common ground.

  • E.g. is easy to remember because both it and example start with e. With i.e., just remember that it and that is are both two syllables, or make a mental connection between i.e. and the two-letter i words is and in in that is and in other words.

  • I.e. and e.g. are lowercase when they come in the middle of a sentence.

  • Most American style guides recommend following e.g. and i.e. with a comma and including the periods after each letter, and this is usually borne out in edited American books and publications. Outside North America, the periods and the comma are often omitted.

  • There is no need to italicize e.g. and i.e. in normal use.....

Usage examples:

It’s early, and factors beyond anyone’s control (e.g. the euro, Iran) could impact the race. [Washington Post]

The Harvard report compared “professional” reviewers (ie those working for newspapers and magazines) with their new competition. [Guardian]

Prohibition of illegal substances (e.g. LSD or MDMA) has also prevented very important clinical research from continuing. [Sydney Morning Herald]

In 2005, America had the lowest personal savings rate since 1933. In fact it was outright negative — i.e., consumers spent more money than they made. [Chicago Tribune]

(The Grammarist)

The following extract from GOV.UK is suggesting style changes to the usage of Latin abbreviations to avoid misunderstanding:

Changes to the style guide: no more eg, and ie, etc ( Persis Howe, 20 July 2016 — Best practice, Content)

  • We’ve found that several programs that read webpages for those with visual impairment read ‘eg’ incorrectly, so we’re updating the style guide.

  • Most people who use these programs are used to their quirks, but it’s jarring to hear the wrong words. And while ‘e.g.’ gets read correctly by screen readers, there are better, clearer ways of introducing examples for all users.

  • We promote the use of plain English on GOV.UK. We advocate simple, clear language. Terms like eg, ie and etc, while common, make reading difficult for some.

    • ‘eg’ can sometimes be read aloud as ‘egg’ by screen reading software. Instead use ‘for example’ or ‘such as’ or 'like' or ‘including’ - whichever works best in the specific context.

    • ‘ie’ - used to clarify a sentence - isn’t always well understood. Try (re)writing sentences to avoid the need to use it. If that isn’t possible, use an alternative such as ‘meaning’ or ‘that is’.

  • Anyone who didn’t grow up speaking English may not be familiar with them. Even those with high literacy levels can be thrown if they are reading under stress or are in a hurry - like a lot of people are on the web.

  • So we’re phasing them out. We’ve changed our style guide as follows, and we’re letting content designers across government know.

  • Thanks for the general rule. But other than appearing "unusual", what I'm really after is: are the examples I give correct or acceptable? Or are they incorrect? Why? – Hugo Dec 20 '16 at 13:11
  • @Hugo - Ok, I understood you were looking for the rules a bout the usage of these specific Latin abbreviations. – user66974 Dec 20 '16 at 13:33
  • @Hugo - In the first sentence you cite a number of examples and "such as" would sound more natural to me. In the second you are not making an example, you are just saying that "complete solutions" are you specialty, so e.g. is out of place. – user66974 Dec 20 '16 at 14:13
  • If I were you, I'd delete a chunk of your answer, include the links though, and include your comments which answer (in part) the OP's question. – Mari-Lou A Dec 23 '16 at 7:45
  • @Mari-LouA - i think my answer fits Q1 and Q3. OP is asking for "reputable references" not opinions so I don't think that deleting would help. As for Q2 I am not sure what OP means but that would probably result in an opinion-biased answer. – user66974 Dec 23 '16 at 8:10

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