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Monday, September 21, 2009

Militant Grammarians Unite!

Here’s another grammar issue brought up to me by my good friend at Katy Streams Her Consciousness*. This is a pretty easy one to fix but a difficult one to remember, especially in the fever of writing, but I thought y’all should be armed with this information since there are a lot of undercover grammarphiles out there just waiting to pounce on you when you least expect it**.

i.e. vs. e.g.

i.e. is Latin for id est, which essentially means “that is”. So you use i.e. for those circumstances when you are clarifying the preceding statement. For example: That person exhibited the trait I hate most, i.e. bad hygiene.

e.g. is Latin for exempli gratia which means “for the sake of example” or “for example”. So you use e.g. when you are going to clarify by way of a series of examples. To reuse the preceding example with the requisite changes: That person exhibited the traits I hate most, e.g. bad hygiene, long hair, short shorts, etc.

I hope that clears that up. I’d hate y’all to find yourselves unwittingly grammar-mugged over something so simple. In the meantime, L's & G's, keep your friends close and your modifiers even closer, lest they dangle embarrassingly. TTFN.

*Ostensibly because I used i.e. incorrectly in an earlier post. For the record, I am not in any way, shape, or form, an authority on grammar or the use of ancient Latin acronyms, which is why I've decided to write these occasional grammar posts: for your sakes, and for my own.
**Like when you've written a particularly sloppy e-mail at 3 in the AM and sent the sloppy e-mail to about 50 of your friends and then the grammarphile replies^ to all correcting your grammar and/or spelling  or whether you capitalized Saturday or something. Militant Grammarians are everywhere, people, waiting, biding their time until they can jump out of the internet version of a deep, dark alleyway and take your grammar lunch money. Beware, my friends, beware. 
         ^approximately 5 minutes after your original e-mail, of course.