08 Jul 2010

“I.e.” versus “e.g.”: I’m Huge

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Some of us like to judge all of you by whether you correctly use “i.e.” and “e.g.” I’m not telling you to change your life just to please us, I’m just stating a fact. Here’s the distinction:

I.e. ==> “in other words”

E.g. ==> “for example”

So this line from a student essay is funny:

Austrian economists, i.e. Murphy, believe that the interest rate is actually a type of price.

I don’t think the student was suggesting that I was synonymous with Austrian economists. Or was he?

14 Responses to ““I.e.” versus “e.g.”: I’m Huge”

  1. Bob says:

    i.e. is correct, because you are the reincarnated Carl Menger

  2. Eli says:

    I love little tidbits of knowledge like this.

    I also liked listening to a lecture of Tom Woods, where he went off on a tangent explaining that you only underline words that you want your secretary to later put into italics later, or something to that effect. One listening could tell that it drove him crazy.

    I always note when people use the fake word, nother, e.g. “Conservatives are fine in my book, but libertarians are a whole nother thing”.

  3. Todd S. says:

    One mnemonic that helps me is:
    e.g. = example given
    i.e. = in essence

    Or is that two mnemonics… ?

    • Yancey Ward says:

      Can you help me with a method of remembering what a mnemonic is?

  4. Nico says:

    It’s easier to read “I.e.” as “that is”.

    Nice article. How about doing one about “imply” versus “infer”, or the subjunctive mood?

  5. crossofcrimson says:

    Whenever I write anything about economics, I paste my piece into MS Word and do a search and replace on all instances of “Austrian” for “Robert P. Murphy.” All the ladies clamor, and implore me to explain why Böhm-Bawerk was so “Robert P. Murphy.”

  6. david says:

    Nico said ‘It’s easier to read “I.e.” as “that is”.’

    It’s also the literal translation from Latin (= id est).

    Also, while we’re at the pedantry, “I.e.” should always be followed by a comma (just as “that is” or “in other words” usually would). If the quote from the student’s essay above is accurate, then he/she got that wrong too.

    The dean of Austrian Economics, i.e., Robert Murphy, said:

    “Some of us like to judge all of you by whether you correctly use “i.e.” and “e.g.” I’m not telling you to change your life just to please us, I’m just stating a fact.”

    Is there a better criterion (apart from possibly the misuse of infer/imply as noted by Nico or the tendency to use “orientate”)?

  7. Steven says:

    I’m grateful I had enough of a classical education to know these phrases in their latin as part of common parlance. Id est and exempli gratia.

    Once you know latin bases, which aren’t too difficult for english speakers, there is nothing to it – the latin speaks for itself. My pet peeve its the way the public schools have decimated the language, thus making it difficult to use common latin abbreviations and expect comprehension.

    • crossofcrimson says:

      I took Latin in (private) high school and I’ve often been grateful for the same reason. Since Romantic languages are such a huge base for English (etymologically), having a simple background in Latin can really help you figure out unknown words and expressions. I guess, in terms of public education, they look at the direct applications…I think they’re literally only considering teaching you languages that you’re likely to actually use in direct conversation at some point, hence the emphasis on Spanish, French, and more recently various Chinese dialects.

  8. Robert Wenzel says:

    I will keep this little lesson in mind, p.r.n.

  9. Ash says:

    Does anyone think that maybe the student was being a bit snarky/sarcastic? I.e. Bob Murphy is the only Austrian economist–a jab at the obscurity and acceptedness of the tradition?

    • bobmurphy says:

      I don’t think that’s what he meant. I can’t give you more context because it was someone’s final exam, after all.