“i.e.” and Its Friends

Margie Wakeman Wells The Colon, The Comma, The Semicolon Leave a Comment

These eight expressions are often used when something is being renamed or reiterated:

i.e., that is, e.g., for example, to wit, namely, for instance, in other words

The punctuation depends upon where they are in the sentence and/or what follows them. There are six rules; so we will do a few at a time.

WHEN THESE WORDS AND WHAT FOLLOWS ARE AT THE END OF THE SENTENCE:

If followed by a fragment, use a pair of commas.

…I bought a new car, that is, a VW Beetle.
…This is a very serious crime, to wit, murder.

If followed by a complete sentence, use a semicolon and a comma.

…She has to have surgery; i.e., she has to have a hysterectomy.
…He was late that day; in other words, he didn’t make it on time.

If followed by a list, use a colon and a comma.

…Send everything to me: for example, bills, receipts, canceled checks.
…I visited several Oregon towns: namely, Eugene, Portland, Salem, Bend.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

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