Dear Copy Bitch: Can you settle an argument I’m having with my SO? What’s the difference between “ie” and “eg”?
–In Love in Indiana
Answer: Use “i.e.” when you mean “in other words” and use “e.g.” when you mean “for example” (think of the e in e.g. and the e in example to help you remember).
1. If George Clooney were ever to speak to me, I’d probably get all supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (i.e., I’d sputter nonsense for lack of anything brilliant to say).
2. I love anything with chocolate (e.g., ice cream, cakes, pies, etc.).
Update: I caught Get Shorty on the telly the other day. Here’s a funny (NSFW) scene that demonstrates the i.e. vs. e.g. conundrum.