Do You Need Commas With 'e.g.', 'etc.' and 'i.e.'?

We enclose the abbreviations e.g., etc., and i.e. between commas in English.

We enclose the abbreviations e.g., etc., and i.e. in commas. For example:

Some sports e.g. racing and boxing, are dangerous.

Some sports, e.g., racing and boxing, are dangerous.

Milk, cheese, yogurt, etc., should always be refrigerated.

Only one country in the world, i.e., Iceland, has no mosquitoes.

When a list of terms is enclosed by parentheses (brackets), we do not add commas behind or in front of them.

Some Asian cities (e.g., Shanghai and Tokyo) face significant environmental risks.

I love lively colors (yellow, red, orange, etc.).

1. Additional Commas in Sentences With 'e.g.' or 'i.e.'

While using these abbreviations, you may need to add three or more commas in your sentence:

  • a comma before the abbreviation (e.g. or i.e),
  • a comma after the abbreviation, and
  • another comma after the list or term that follows e.g. or i.e.

Example:

Eating Italian food, e.g., pasta and salad, is good for your health.

Why do we need three commas in the example above? The abbreviations e.g., etc. and i.e. are parenthetic; that is, they introduce added information to the main part of your writing. Parenthetic expressions must be placed between commas.(1)

Because parenthetic remarks require two commas, you must not omit one comma and leave the other.

Some Chinese cities, e.g. Beijing, have populations in excess of 10 million.

Some Chinese cities, e.g., Beijing, have populations in excess of 10 million.

The example above includes two parenthetic expressions:

  • "e.g.", and
  • "Beijing".

As a result, both must be enclosed in commas.

Canned foods, e.g. tuna, corn, and black beans are often very salty.

The sentence above is incorrect because it needs two additional commas.

Canned foods, e.g., tuna, corn, and black beans, are often very salty.

An example with i.e.:

I'm going to order my favorite food, i.e. pizza.

I'm going to order my favorite food, i.e., pizza.

Recommended: How to Use Commas in Bulleted and Numbered Lists

2. Do Not Add 'etc.' in an 'e.g.' List

The abbreviation e.g., which means "for example", implies that other examples are being omitted. Consequently, do not add etc. after an e.g. list.

I repair electronic devices, e.g., cameras, ovens, washing machines, etc.

I repair electronic devices, e.g., cameras, ovens, or washing machines.

3. More Examples With 'e.g.'

  • Some Mediterranean countries (e.g., Italy, Greece, and Spain) are sunny even in winter.
  • A wide range of metals, e.g., copper, nickel, and lithium, are required to make electric vehicle batteries.
  • There are a number of reasons you might always feel cold, e.g., health conditions, blood vessel problems or hormonal imbalance.
  • High-fiber foods (e.g., raspberries, bananas and carrots) help you feel full longer.
  • You need to set personal goals (e.g., marriage, work commitment, or financial stability).

4. More Examples With 'etc.'

  • Latin is the origin of many European languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc.).
  • Some English words (scissors, brewery, quinoa, etc.) are difficult to pronounce.
  • Many religions, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, etc., practice fasting.
  • These days, children and adults are surrounded by electronic devices (smartphones, personal computers, etc.)
  • Strength training exercises for all major muscle groups (chest, legs, arms, etc.) protect bone health and muscle mass.

5. More Examples With 'i.e.'

  • The biggest animal on the planet, i.e., the Antarctic blue whale, weighs up to 400,000 pounds (about 33 elephants).
  • Only one country in the world, i.e., Nepal, has a triangular flag.
  • The most widely consumed alcoholic drink, i.e., beer, can be problematic for your health if you consume it in excess.
  • My son needs to learn the most spoken language on the planet, i.e., English.
  • My best friend, i.e., Peter, is moving to New York next week.

6. Other Ways to Say 'e.g.', 'etc.' and 'i.e.'

Synonyms of e.g. are "for example", "including", "such as" or "for instance". The use of commas with "for example" and e.g. follows the same rules.

I like many tropical fruits, e.g., coconuts, bananas, and papayas.

I like many tropical fruits, including coconuts, bananas, and papayas.

Other ways to say etc. are "and so forth" or "and so on". For example:

The refugees of the civil war need food, clothing, medical supplies, etc.

The refugees of the civil war need food, clothing, medical supplies, and so on.

Instead of the abbreviation "i.e.", you can use a range of words, including "namely", "specifically", "that is", or "in other words". The use of commas with namely and synonyms follow the same rules.

The tallest player of the team, i.e., John, was involved in a car accident.

The tallest player of the team, that is, John, was involved in a car accident.

You can learn more about the different ways to say i.e. in English by reading our post on synonyms of namely with examples.

7. Conclusion

The following strategy will help you improve your punctuation and writing skills in English:

  1. Look for the abbreviations e.g., etc., and i.e. in your text.
  2. Make sure that they are placed between commas.
  3. Consider using a synonym of these abbreviations to avoid repetition or improve your writing style.

8. References

(1) Strunk JR., William; White, E.B.. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition. Chapter 1. Section 3

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