Saturday, 20 October 2012

Miss Hasler's English Class: 5

There are many words and expressions from other languages that we use in English. The two that we are going to look at today come from Latin and are typically used in the form of abbreviations. Does anyone know what an abbreviation is? Julie?

I doubt the answer is hiding in your pencil case, dear. Yes, that is a pretty pencil topper, but it isn’t quite what I was after. Yes, I suppose it does look a bit like Harry.

Abbreviations – watch the spelling on the board – are shortened versions of words or phrases. Sometimes they are shortened right down to the first letter of the word(s). Abbreviations are similar to contractions – words like don’t and isn’t – but they differ in that they don’t need apostrophes to be added to represent the letters we have taken out.

The abbreviations that we are concerned with today are e.g. and i.e. Notice the dots after each of the letters: these show that we have taken the endings off each of the words. It doesn’t matter that the words we are abbreviating are from Latin; we do the same thing with abbreviations of ‘ordinary’ English words like prof. (short for professor) and Rev. (short for Reverend).

An interesting side note: in American English, abbreviations almost always have dots put on the end (as in Doctor = Dr. or Mister = Mr.), but in British English dots are only used when the end of the word is cut off (as in Rev. = Reverend). Doctor is shortened to Dr, without a dot at the end, as the only bit of the word missing is the middle.

Now, back to e.g. and i.e. These are two often-used Latin expressions that are often used incorrectly by being mixed up. The key thing to remember is that they have distinct meanings and are not interchangeable.

e.g. is short for ‘exempli gratia’, which means ‘for example’. It should be used just as its English equivalent would be, to introduce an example (or a number of examples) of whatever it is you are writing about:

Many animal species (e.g. the red-backed frog) are endemic to South America.
There are lots of playground games that girls can play, e.g. skipping, hopscotch, tag.

i.e. is short for ‘id est’, which means ‘that is’ or ‘in other words’. Just like its English equivalent, it should be used to introduce an explanatory point:

The temperature at which the triple point of water can occur is 273.16 Kelvin, i.e., 0.01 degrees Celsius.
Bella likes to go extreme ironing, i.e., doing her ironing in unusual or dangerous situations.

A good way of testing whether you have used e.g. or i.e. correctly or not is to put the English equivalent in instead:

My satchel is carmine, e.g., red.
My satchel is carmine, for example, red.

Does this sound right? It does not! We should use i.e. here, not e.g.:

My satchel is carmine, i.e., red.
My satchel is carmine, that is, red.

Remembering which of e.g. or i.e. to use is made easier by the Latin word exempli and the English word example being so similar. For example = e.g.

A similar trick can be used to remember that i.e. means that is.

See? Good.

Write a sentence using e.g. and another using i.e.


  1. The girl in front of me in class used a funny symbol when she put her hand up, eg: the Vulcan sign for live long and prosper.
    The apple I gave Miss Hasler is crimson, ie: red.
    Thank you Miss Hasler

  2. Naughty boys and girls run the risk of earning time-honored punishments, e.g. grounding, standing in the corner, writing lines, spanking. Bottoms could end up scarlet, i.e., red.

    Some people spend too much time thinking about time-honored punishments, e.g. or i.e., me.

    Thank you, Miss Hasler. If I may ask, is there a rule for when we should use parentheses, and when should e.g. or i.e. be followed by a comma?

  3. Good work, Andrea dear, but your e.g. answer doesn't quite fit. It might if you rephrased it to "The girl in front of me sometimes uses funny symbols, e.g. the Vulcan sign for live long and prosper, when she puts her hand up in class."

    Also, remember to put dots after the letters e.g. and i.e. to show that they are the short versions of whole words.

    Thank you for the apple!

  4. Good work, TFD. You do seem to have a thing about punishment, I agree! But that is no bad thing in a young learner.

    As for commas and/or parentheses, the rules are the same as they would be for the English equivalents. Personal preference (and style guides) vary, so you have some leeway.

    If you would write "Miss Hasler wears eyeshadow that makes her eyes seem like magnetic pools of stygian mystique (that is, dark)" you would also write "...magnetic pools of stygian mystique (i.e., dark)."

  5. Ms. Hasler is a strict teacher e.g. she spanked me and Harry for being naughty

    The trees had beautiful leaves i.e. red and yellow.


  6. In fact, TFD, my two i.e. examples in class should have commas in them. I left them out because I think they can slow sentences down rather (and can sometimes just look a bit inelegant).

    "Bella likes to go extreme ironing, i.e., doing her ironing in unusual or dangerous situations."

    But I will sneakily add commas to them on the board now as I don't want my pupils to learn bad grammatical habits.

  7. Thank you, Timmy. Very nice work. I think your sentences might work better with a little rephrasing, however:

    "Miss Hasler is a strict teacher who punishes children when they deserve it; e.g., she spanked me and Harry for being naughty."

    "The trees had beautiful leaves in golden autumnal shades, i.e., red and yellow."

  8. Ms Hasler, what does "stygian" mean?

  9. Thank you very much, Miss Hasler.

    Your eyes are bewitching.

    I think I also prefer to omit the comma. It looks cleaner.


  10. The Vulcan sign is NOT funny!

  11. 'Stygian' means 'dark', John. I wanted to describe my eye makeup in an overly poetic way to make the parenthesised i.e. that followed seem amusing.

    Thank you, TFD! You can have a sticker for flattering teacher.

    Now, Ana, let's not have raised voices in class, dear. We all know you like Star Trek, and that's lovely.

  12. Not much got passed Miss Hasler i.e she was strict. Her punishings could be very unpleasant e.g the cane, and long lonely corner time.

  13. A good try, Harry, but I would rephrase each of your sentences as they don't quite work. And remember to put dots after each of our abbreviated words.

    Not much got past Miss Hasler: she was a very exacting teacher (i.e. she was strict). Her punishments (e.g. the cane, the slipper, and long, lonely corner time) could be very unpleasant.

  14. I see that is much better, thank you Miss.

  15. Penny nice blog you have ,love and spanks,Timxx

  16. Thanks, Tim!

    No chewing gum in class.

  17. Sorry i am tardy, my name is billy.

    For the lesson- I like sports. Eg baseball, football.

    Writing lines is boring. I.e. mind-numbing.

  18. Very good, billy! You can have a sticker for good work.

  19. Thank-you miss. Can we have receess now?, ie something fun

  20. Miss Hasler looks up at the clock.

    My, is that the time? You're quite right, Billy - it is nearly time for recess. Work quietly until the bell sounds, there's a good boy.

  21. Yes Maa'm. Thank you.

    Billy dejectedly returns his attention to his paper as he mutters about a "stupid clock".