January 17, 2008
Weekly Language Usage Tips: e.g./i.e., comprise
The first tip is related to the use of ‘comprise,” a much misused and misunderstood word. Comprise means “contain” or “include.” It does not mean “is composed of.” But (NOTE: by the way, although you cannot start a sentence with “also,” it is perfectly fine to start a sentence with “but” or “and”) many use “comprise” as “is composed of” or “consists of” . For example,”the library is comprised of thousands of books.” While this might sound okay to you, check out the true meaning, “contain.” You wouldn’t say, “the library is contained of thousands of books.” No, of course not–You would say, ” the library contains thousands of books.” And (see note above) similarly, the correct usage would be, “the library comprises thousands of books.” Now I know this may seem counterintuitive for many since many have been using the “is comprised of” meaning for so long. But kids, it’s just wrong.
The second tip concerns the use of the abbreviations “e.g.” and “i.e.”
“e.g.” stands for the Latin “exempli gratia” and means “for example.”
“i.e.” stands for the Latin “id est” and means “that is.”
The two are not interchangeable.
“e.g.” should be used when you are listing some of the types of things you are discussing. A phrase starting with “e.g.” should not end with an “etc.” (standing for “et cetera” and meaning “and others”) because the use of the “e.g.” is a way of stating that these are some examples.
EXAMPLE: We expect that health professional fellows (e.g., MD, DO, DMD, PharmD, RN/PhD or equivalent) with no prior advanced degree pertinent to HSR will pursue a Master’s of Science degree through the ICRE.
“i.e.” should be used when you are specifying the thing you are discussing.
EXAMPLE: He will oversee the experience of fellows who work with RAND Health investigators and will coordinate the interaction of fellows with faculty at other US RAND Health offices (i.e., Santa Monica, Washington, DC).
Both are abbreviations and BOTH SHOULD BE FOLLOWED BY A COMMA.