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Unfortunately, people often seem to reverse these two. (I see this especially in memos and email.) I find it especially common that people use "i.e." when they give examples and should use "e.g." This confusion of "i.e." and "e.g." slows my reading down because when I come to one of them I always have to be open to the possibility that the writer meant the other one, so I have to read the passage both ways and see which makes more sense.

At least, if people were consistently wrong, I could just automatically switch it to the other one. But they're not consistent. So I have to read it both ways. A minor hassle, but a hassle nonetheless.

--SirTas
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Unfortunately, people often seem to reverse these two. (I see this especially in memos and email.) I find it especially common that people use "i.e." when they give examples and should use "e.g." This confusion of "i.e." and "e.g." slows my reading down because when I come to one of them I always have to be open to the possibility that the writer meant the other one, so I have to read the passage both ways and see which makes more sense.

I have a mnemonic that works for me. The "i" in "i.e." matches with the "i" in "that is" and the "e" in "e.g." matches with the "e" in "for example." As far as figuring out what someone else means, I have this coin in my pocket...

Dennis
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Unfortunately, people often seem to reverse these two.


Hmmmm. If people often SEEM to reverse these two, then you're implying that sometimes they clearly incontrovertibly actually DO reverse them? Come on now. No waffling. They do or they don't. ;-)

That twit aside.....I'm pretty astonished. Of all the language and language-related errors of pen and tongue that distress me, I've never encountered that one.

My only gripe is that I prefer the way they look without periods, and sometimes I'm forced to put periods in.


sheila
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Really?

(1) I much prefer the periods. We dealing with abbreviated words.

(2) I encounter this all the time. Maybe once a week or so. (Sometimes more if I'm grading a stack of papers). Secretaries writing emails, memos and committee minutes do it, although they're not the only ones! The other day I saw a contract that reads "AC will reimburse driving costs (at the standard government rate per mile) and incidental expenses (i.e., parking, tolls) incurred during T's travel ..." This sentence needs e.g, not i.e.; the tolls and the parking costs are mentioned as examples.

Sometimes I see younger people write ex. instead of e.g.. At least that doesn't halt me in my reading like the first case does. But I think a good use of i.e. and e.g. is best of all.

--SirTas
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(1) I much prefer the periods. We dealing with abbreviated words.

I know they're abbreviated, but they've also become--to me, at least--somewhat like words themselves. In a way I realize that doesn't make sense, because I don't use them as I would an acronym and pronounce them as words. I say 'ee gee', not 'egg' , 'yew ess' and not 'US', 'emm dee' and not 'MUD'. But except for 'United States' we always use the abbreviation, and I enjoy the clean look of MD, ie, eg, etc. It's almost a visceral sensation of pleasure vs. clutter. I actually don't object nearly as much to 'U.S.' with the periods, I guess because it's also often spelled out.

(2) I encounter this all the time. Maybe once a week or so. (Sometimes more if I'm grading a stack of papers). Secretaries writing emails, memos and committee minutes do it, although they're not the only ones!

So it's a work context for you, obviously a teacher. As a science/medical/health care writer, the literature and people I typically deal with know their eg's from their ie's.


sheila
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I enjoy the clean look of MD, ie, eg, etc. It's almost a visceral sensation of pleasure vs. clutter.

I get a visceral reaction of seeing them without the periods.

And I also see them misused quite often.

MOI
<not a teacher>
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Unfortunately, people often seem to reverse these two.


Hmmmm. If people often SEEM to reverse these two, then you're implying that sometimes they clearly incontrovertibly actually DO reverse them? Come on now. No waffling. They do or they don't. ;-)


This is exactly the problem I have!  I have to stop in the middle of reading and try to figure out whether they are actually reversing the two (consistently) or whether they are merely confused -- maybe using the abbreviations at random  -- or what.  Sometimes I reach the conclusion that you mention -- that the people have clearly reversed the abbreviations.  Sometimes it's not at all clear to me what's going on, and I just think they are confused.  Maybe they SEEM to reverse them, but I can't be sure.  Sometimes I see a case like "Faculty should report all research activities (i.e., publications) to the Dean's office" and I wonder whether "publications" is a gloss on "research activities" and spells out what that really means (in which case I take the "i.e." as "i.e.") or whether the "i.e." is a confusion for "e.g.", where "publications" is just an example of a research activity that should be reported.  So, I think you're right that people either actually are reversing these two, or they only seem to.  But figuring out the difference is really hard, especially in cases in which I see only a limited sample of their text.  

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is very common.  (Just yesterday, I had to change someone's "i.e." to "e.g." since in that case it was pretty clear what they meant.  Other cases are harder to figure out.)  

--SirTas
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Hmmmm. If people often SEEM to reverse these two, then you're implying that sometimes they clearly incontrovertibly actually DO reverse them? Come on now. No waffling. They do or they don't. ;-)


This is exactly the problem I have!  I have to stop in the middle of reading and try to figure out whether they are actually reversing the two (consistently) or whether they are merely confused -- maybe using the abbreviations at random  -- or what. 


Now I understand. Boy, is that frustrating. And to be confronted with this regularly inan academic setting is particularly frustrating. And also, I'd say, distressing. Seems to me it reflects the creeping dumbing down of education and standards.


sheila
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My own mnemonic for keeping these straight:

I think of eg as the first two letters in eg-zample.
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My own mnemonic for keeping these straight:

I think of eg as the first two letters in eg-zample
.

That's clever.  I just remember that i.e. stands for "id est," and that does it for me.  What latin phrase does e.g. stand for?
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Decided to answer my own question:  e.g. stands for exempli gratia, "for the sake of example."

BTW, when I tried to cut and paste that from another site, nothing happened. 

I do not like this new, supposedly improved, interface. 
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I do not like this new, supposedly improved, interface. 


Post your difficulty and frustration on Improve the Fool

http://boards.fool.com/Messages.asp?bid=100007&mid=25937827


sheila
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The seeming reversal of "i.e." and "e.g.":

Here's a case in which the text sample is so small that it's hard to tell what's going on. The "i.e." really doesn't block understanding (and it probably discloses what the author has in mind, since he's probably thinking of only individual stocks). I found this example at
http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=25967600

If you have any interest in broadening your investment options beyond what most 401k's offer (i.e. individual stocks), you should consider rolling it over to an IRA.

"E.g." might work if the author was thinking of individual stocks, bonds, ETF's and/or other items.

I'd guess that "e.g." should have been here, but the size of the sample is way too small to be encourage confidence in this guess.

--SirTas
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If you have any interest in broadening your investment options beyond what most 401k's offer (i.e. individual stocks), you should consider rolling it over to an IRA.

What I thought was most interesting about this quote is that most 401k's offer primarily mutual funds, not individual stocks. BWDIK?
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"If you have any interest in broadening your investment options beyond what most 401k's offer (i.e. individual stocks), you should consider rolling it over to an IRA."

What I thought was most interesting about this quote is that most 401k's offer primarily mutual funds, not individual stocks. BWDIK?

I think you're getting at one of the things that is confusing about an apparent mix-up between "i.e." and "e.g." You are reading the sentence as if the writer knows what he is doing and correctly using "i.e." to mean "that is" and explaining that the 401k is limited to individual stocks. But another possibility is that what the writer is doing is giving us an example of an investment option that would become available if you do the roll over he suggests.

This, to me, is one reason why an the confusion between "i.e." and "e.g." is particularly annoying. I so often have to try out two different interpretations of what the writer is saying. On one interpretation, I assume he knows the difference. On the second interpretation, I assume he doesn't. Then I have to decide which interpretation makes more sense in the context.

As a reader, I shouldn't have to do this work!

--SirTas
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Thanks for expanding your comments SirTas, now I understand what bothered you about the sentence.
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