Submitted by Ophelia on November 9, 2011

eg, e.g., or eg.

I’ve done some research about the use of “for example” in its shortened form, but have been left more confused than ever.

Is it eg, e.g., or eg.? It comes from the Latin “exempli gratia”, so I would have thought it correct to place a period after the e and after the g in place of the missing letters.

Yet, in official documents all over the place I see one or two periods, or none at all. I have in front of me an official document from the New South Wales government, The Board of Studies English K-6 Syllabus. Throughout this document each example is preceded by “eg”, no dots at all. Same with other Board of Studies documents, however other Education Department documents do have e.g.

Personally I think that e.g. is more correct, but seeing no dots at all in an official document on teaching English to primary school students, had me wondering whether the convention in this case has changed, or whether it might simply be a matter of choice with no one way being either right or wrong.

Which is correct, or doesn’t it matter?

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If it is at the beginning of a sentence, Can it be E.g. ?

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What about people using 'e.g.' followed by a list that ends with 'etc.' (e.g, '(e.g., grammarians, nitpickers, etc.)')? [(I had to try that, despite possible criticisms. :-)] Does not the use of 'etc.' indicate the writer's list is intended not as just a limited set of examples but a totality of possibilities, thus obviating the need for the 'e.g.'?

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"eg" is fine without full stops, as are other common abbreviations, especially capitalised ones, at least here in the UK.

However, maybe now we could reintroduce the "e.g." form. I think open punctuation was introduced because when using monospaced fonts (eg on typewriters and golfball printers) all those extra punctuation marks look horrible, add lots of visual clutter, and increase the chances of rivers forming in your text. Now, 30 years on, we all use proportionally-spaced fonts and the punctuation marks don't look /quite/ as bad...

Hmm I'm not sure which is most important to me - pedantically following the rules of the English language, or clean, uncluttered typography... I enjoy both :)

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After my doctoral thesis writing since my last post I have come to understand that when used in a sentence there should be a comma, but not when used in brackets.

For example:
A sentence, e.g., when to use a comma
A sentence (e.g. when not to use a comma)

That is how I have used it in my writing anyway.

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Hilarious! And informative. Thanks for the oatmeal link, GabbyGibby.

Make Your English Work: Great blog post, I agree with your logic. Seems that not everyone does though, hence the confusion many people experience when they see the variety of forms of this abbreviation used even in what purport to be formal documents.
Question: did you mean to write "f.e." rather than "f.r." in the example of the English form of e.g.?

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I came across this website you might find amusing regarding e.g., or e.g. or eg

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/ie

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I would certainly use periods, looks clearer and otherwise you could end up with eg on your face.

sorry.

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I think it's clear that e.g. has to have full stops/periods. It is an abbreviation for exempli gratia and is technically an acronym, in which each of the first two letters is used. These are always presented either with full stops, capital letters or both. Thus, we do use US and could use u.s. if it was not a country name, but could not just write "us." As for putting one full stop at the end that is for abbreviations where the word is "cut," not acronyms so we use abbr. for abbreviation sand adj. for adjective, but could not use eg., unless the word was "egsample" (har har). As for using a comma after it, that should only be done in some cases, like my last sentence (see what I did?). At the beginning of a list, it is wrong. Why not follow logic rather than convention, or if you follow convention, follow all major style guides, which use e.g. I recently wrote a blog post on this issue at http://www.makeyourenglishwork.com/2012/05/17/e... if you're interested.

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"The American convention is to use full stops (periods) at the end of almost all abbreviations and contractions. The British convention is to use full stops after abbreviations - eg, abbr., adj., co. - but not after contractions - eg, Dr, Mr, Mrs, St."
source: The Economist Style Guide (2005)
This is strange because I would say "e.g." is an abbreviation, but they use "eg" without full stops throughout the whole document.

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Interesting thread. I've been having some difficulties in knowing whether to write e.g. or e.g., - the discussion here helped, but I also found a good summary on grammar girls' site. Her summary is:

"Also, I always put a comma after i.e. and e.g. I've noticed that my spell checker always freaks out and wants me to remove the comma, but five out of six style guides recommend the comma. Seriously. I got so engrossed in the question of whether a comma is required after i.e. and e.g. that I made a table for the website summarizing the opinions of six different style guides"
(http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/ie-eg-oh-m...)

From her table it is apparent that there is some contention about this topic. But based on the comment by AnWulf, I am going to use e.g., (even if it is cumbersome, I think it is correct for formal text documents, for now anyway).

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I agree with you in principle, eelc12, however it appears that what is right is being re-written as the english language evolves. I would much prefer to write e.g. as you have described above, however those above me disagree and so I must write [eg,] as per their instructions.

New words are added to dictionaries as they come into common usage, and new, shorter ways of writing things seem to be developing. It's almost a case of 'if prominent people use a previously wrong convention often enough, it will eventually become right'.

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With periods and a comma: it is an abbreviation; it is a clause. Just because you see it in print doesn't make it right.

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@Patrick ... Would yu write: "for example, the dog is blue" or "for example the dog is blue"? If yu benote the comma after example, then also benote it after the abbreviation. For me, there should be a comma there.

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I agree about the appearance of two bits of punctuation together, but the comma is there for a different reason. The dots on eg are just to tell you it's an abbreviation, but all readers know that, so it is now a relic and does make a cleaner look. However the comma afterwards imitates the hesitation in speech when one says, "For example..." It's signal to the reader that the text will go off on a tangent for a while.

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I personally never use the comma after the "eg" -- also do not use periods as you notice. To me, commas should only be used where necessary for clarity, or to signal a natural pause in the text (ie where you would pause if reading or speaking out loud).

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OK, I did not see any discussion about whether the comma is necessary after the e.g. I've had a long-standing argument about this with my boss (I am a technical writer). I prefer it without the comma ("e.g."), but he says the comma should be used ("e.g.,"). I think the comma makes it look clunky and busy. I've seen at least one quasi-official grammar source that says that the comma is preferred but still optional. Any thoughts?

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"...the dots died quite suddenly in (I would say) the early nineties..."
Ah yes, the advent of the technological age: birth of widespread human laziness. I would say that just because something is common does not make it right or correct (and yes I use those words separately).

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Perhaps, but if so, I have not often seen it used.

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It seems that in the US ex. has come to replace e.g.

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I will be sticking with the no dots in my publications. On the subject of italicization of foreign words, in my case it is usually Latin plant or animal names, and I always use italics for clarity, to distinguish from common names. I don't find it 'a pain' to select and hit "ctrl+I".

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It's actually spelled "egg".

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Generally, especially in the US, periods are not used in abbreviations -- especially commonly used ones (eg, ie, am, pm, etc) and also not in US or USA.

I do think foreign words and abbreviations SHOULD BE italicized, but that seems to be on the way out -- in part because it is a pain in the arse to do with most word processors. I do italicize them in formal writing, but not in everyday use.

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I much prefer "e.g." The dotless version makes me want to pronounce it as "egg".

Porsche - what you say about US also seems to be true here in NZ. I hardly ever see the dots any more. For capital abbreviations in general, the dots died quite suddenly in (I would say) the early nineties, and unlike in lower-case abbreviations like e.g., I can't say I miss them.

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@Ophelia

Love the visual! Glad I can contribute SOMEthing to this site!!!

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*palm to forehead*
Tom, you are right: my mistake.

New South Wales Australia, to be precise.

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Ophelia, with "etc.", why would you put a period after "et"? "Et", as you say, isn't an abbreviation.

As to your original question, I find it a bit disheartening that you find a no-dot "eg" in an English Studies document. Of course, if New South Wales is in Texas, then I can understand....

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I'n not saying it's wrong, but I have never seen eg without the dots and I would never write it that way. As for U.S., I think that in many cases you do not see the dots any more.

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I'm with dave. The dots are correct but these days why bother? Everyone understands, and it saves some time. On the other hand, publishing programs tend to correct these 'errors' with or without writers' will being expressed. In like manner, it is no longer necessary to put periods and spaces as well after name initials. J S Bach is fine.

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Interesting, thanks. I suppose on this theme if you were to be hyper-correct, etc. should be et.c. because it stands for et cetera, but everyone seems to write etc. or just etc because it is so readily understood.

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Either is fine: "eg" or "e.g." Periods in abbreviations that are so readily understood are becoming obsolete, or at least optional.

I don't see "eg." much, with just one period, and if I did, I'd probably assume it was a typo or error.

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According to the Chicago Manual of Style, it's "e.g." and it's not italicized. It's an abbreviation, so just as you would abbreviate United States to U.S., you do the same with e.g.

(I mention the point about not italicizing because e.g. is an abbreviation for a Latin phrase, and foreign language words and phrases are sometimes italicized. However, when they are very common—e.g., "nom de plume"—you don't italicized. Such is the case with e.g. and it's cousin, i.e.

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