I'm looking at a text that regularly uses "e.g." in place of "for example", such as the following:

"This parallel composition can be transparently split between two cores, allowing, e.g., for faster execution".

(Ignore what the sentence is about. It's bogus and completely made up.)

The use of "e.g." in that sentence sounds really wrong to my ear, but I'm trying to understand why it is so.

I don't find a lot on the topic. I've been searching online, and on stackexchange, for posts that justify why it is or isn't wrong. Most posts and questions ask about the difference between 'i.e.' and 'e.g.', or try to explain the etymology of "e.g.", or present positive examples (e.g., 'use it when enumerating'), but present no examples of wrong usage.

Can anyone explain if the above usage is wrong, and a reputable source that clearly explains why?

Also, is there an appropriate rule of thumb to understand which cases are wrong? I can think of the following: If you cannot remove "e.g.," and the example(s) that follow and obtain a grammatically correct sentence, then it's definitely wrong. However, even if this rule of thumb is correct, it's not complete. For instance, I cannot replace the use of 'for example' at the beginning of this very sentence with 'e.g.'

Near duplicates:

I've left a comment in one of those because the answer agrees with what I say but does not really explain why. However, the answer has already been accepted, and I doubt there would be any activity at this point.

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    Some people think that 'eg' should be avoided completely. Few, I'd say, think that it's completely interchangeable with 'for example' even in informal writing. I'd say that it's only idiomatic when introducing one or more examples. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition implies this. Also, Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018 (op cit) gives 'such as' as a synonym; if a close synonym, this precludes sentences such as the one you give. The reason? It's what most people consider correct. The logic involved? Nil. Commented May 24, 2018 at 23:03
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    I think I would find that sentence just as awkward with "for example": "This parallel composition can be transparently split between two cores, allowing, for example, for faster execution".
    – herisson
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 23:12
  • @sumelic I dunno, sounds fine to me. Too many commas, sure, but nothing wrong with that as long as they're properly used. "e.g.", on the other hand, does seem odd. Commented May 24, 2018 at 23:16
  • @sumelic I'd want '... allowing for, for example, ...' because 'allow for' is pretty cohesive if not actually a MWV. But then the for for looks off, and 'allowing for' has to be read as 'not the making an allowance on behalf of sense'. Not a great example. Commented May 24, 2018 at 23:24
  • Yeah, my bad. It's not a great example : / But I think you do get the point of what I'm trying to say. What would make a better example? I can change it in the original question.
    – Ivan Perez
    Commented May 25, 2018 at 10:45

1 Answer 1


None of the style guides I'm familiar with have anything to say specifically about why e.g. or i.e. shouldn't be used.

(Most do suggest it's better to use full words, especially in any kind of formal writing. I find this somewhat ironic, since it's people who read formal text who are more likely to understand the correct usage of i.e. and e.g.)

However, the UK Government actually does provide a few justifications:

‘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’.

(Note that in the UK it's not uncommon to see the abbreviations used without periods.)

While the explanation given for avoiding e.g. might sound "stupid" to some people (there are many such comments in response to the government's style decision at the end of the linked web page), it at least is a reason—regardless of such debate.

The reason given for avoiding i.e. seems to be more applicable in general—it's simply not "always well understood."

Personally, I continue to see confusion over the use of e.g. and i.e. I wouldn't be surprised if at least part of the shift away from using the two-letter forms is to avoid their misuse. (Although that's just speculation, since no other style guides I'm aware of mention that specifically.)

However, the use of these abbreviations is probably contraindicated by a growing style of writing called plain language, one in which it's preferable to use words and syntax as simply as possible while still retaining the meaning of what's being communicated. Everything being equal, if nobody is confused by for example or for instance, but some are confused by e.g. or i.e. (or, even if they're not confused, it takes them a bit longer to parse sentences with the abbreviations), then it would be beneficial to a general audience to simply avoid the abbreviations.

There are certain conventions of style that are commonly followed, but specifics depend on particular style guides.

According to The Chicago Manual of Style (6.51), for instance, the initial example that you gave in your question is incorrect because

in formal writing, Chicago prefers to confine the abbreviations i.e. (“that is”) and e.g. (“for example”) to parentheses or notes, where they are followed by a comma.

Which would mean that your sentence, according to Chicago, should be rephrased as something like this:

This parallel composition can be transparently split between two cores, allowing several benefits (e.g., faster execution).

Note that in order to get e.g. inside parentheses with an example I had to shift things around slightly (and add some words). This stylistic guideline will "force" certain sentence structures that would not be required with the actual words for example.

Also note that there are some actual rules of grammar (not style) that preclude e.g. from being used in every place that for example can be used—but you provide links to those discussions in your question. (For instance, the first link explains why I had to give an item after e.g. in my rephrased version of your sentence.)

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    This doesn't really go further than answers in previous threads. Commented May 25, 2018 at 8:48

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