The English l
What is i.e. ?
i.e. is a Latin abbreviation for "id est," which, in English, means "that is." Thankfully, it is used exactly how you would imagine it being used in a sentence. An example of this is "My mother, that is, your Aunt Sally, got a new dog named Bruno this afternoon." In this sentence, you could replace the underlined portion by using i.e. It works as follows: "My mother (i.e. your Aunt Sally) got a new dog named Bruno this afternoon."
As you can see, i.e. is used to reiterate, or redescribe, an idea, person, place, or thing.
What is e.g. ?
e.g. is, you guessed it, another Latin abbreviation.This time, it stands for "exempli gratiÄ," which, in English, means "for example." Again, it is used exactly how you would think it would be used in a sentence. An example of when you could use e.g. is in this sentence: "Alyssa's favorite TV shows all take place in California: for example, Beverly Hills, 90210." In this sentence, you could replace the underlined part with e.g. like this: "Alyssa's favorite TV shows all take place in California (e.g. Beverly Hills, 90210)."
From the above example, you can hopefully see that e.g. is used to advance a point by showing examples.
Remembering the difference
This all sounds easy enough now that you see it right in front of you, but a month from now when you're writing an essay in class, your mind may go completely blank in deciding which abbreviation is properly using English. I have found that the lamer the mnemonic device you use for remembering, the better, so here's mine:
"IE (i.e. the worst web browser on the planet) is developed by Microsoft."
This is a reference to the browser Internet Explorer, and it is a very convenient way to remember that i.e. is the abbreviation used to redefine something. If that doesn't cut it for you, try thinking of something that can help you remember the difference before you leave this page. Remember: the lamer, the better.
With any luck, you now understand the difference between i.e. and e.g. With any luck, you've thought of something corny enough to keep this bit of information with you throughout your life. Good luck with your grammar endeavors!