i.e., e.g., a.k.a. – WTF?

Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes) is confusedHere are three abbreviations that are commonly mixed up.  For your reference, I have listed what they  mean, and how they are supposed to be used. Good Luck and happy writing!

i.e. – This abbreviation is from the Latin id est, which means “that is.” When written in English it can be read aloud as the letters “I – E,” or replaced with the words “that is to say.” It is used to add additional explanatory information to a sentence or to say it in a different way.

I like my coffee black and sweet, i.e., no milk and two sugars.

e.g. – This abbreviation is from Latin exempli gratia, which means “for the sake of an example.” When written in English it can be read aloud as the letters “E-G” or replaced with the words “for example.” It is used to give actual examples of what is being written about. (A good mnemonic to remember this one is that you use it for EGGsamples)

Learning a foreign language can help you get ahead in life; e.g. Spanish, French, Chinese.

a.k.a. – This abbreviation is not from Latin, but merely a shortening of the words “also known as.” It is used to describe aliases, nicknames, working names, alternate names, pen names and pseudonyms. Don’t be tempted to use this abbreviation when you actually mean to use one of the other two listed above. When using this in your writing, just replace it with the words “also known as” if it still works, then you probably are using it correctly; if it doesn’t work, then you probably mean to use i.e. or e.g.

I like to eat those big, sloppy McDonalds burgers a.k.a. The Big Mac.



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