Do you write a comma after e.g. / i.e. / viz. ?

SpanishEnglish101

Member
Spanish
Hi :),

I am asking this because it seems to be opposing views regarding writing a comma after those abbreviations - e.g., i.e. and viz. The Chicago Manual of Style says that a comma needs to be written before and after the abbreviation. A colon or a dash is also possible. It advises that these abbreviations must not be used in formal prose. However, I have seen these abbreviations written in academic articles. This manual of style also says that when you start enumerating a series of things, you should use a comma before the abbreviation as in: "Jane was carrying a lot of stuff in her handbag, e.g.(,) a lipstick, a purse, a notepad, an umbrella, and a chewing gum pack". If a clause is introduced after the first statement, a semicolon needs to be written as in: She saw the last two details; i.e., flowers were waiting and the driver kept mum. (Chicago Manual of Style example, not mine). As I am a new member, I cannot post the link, but if you type that example and "Chicago Manual of Style", you will be able to find it.


What do you think regarding the use of a comma after these abbreviations and the use of a semicolon before them? I'd love to hear from native British English speakers.

Thank you.
 
  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    In AE I often see a comma in i.e., and e.g., but never in BE (including viz.). Italics are rarely (if ever) used with i.e. and e.g. in BE.
    Incidentally, I can't remember the last time I saw viz. It seems to be rather rare (at least in BE).
    I have never seen a semicolon before them (except when a list follows), although a comma is normal.

    The advice about not using them in formal prose is simply without foundation (or nonsense, if you prefer).
     
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    amatriciana

    Senior Member
    English - UK and US
    I've never consulted the Chicago Manual of Style about using them. The punctuation I use for them is exactly what I'd use if I replaced
    "e.g." with "for example", "i.e." with "that is", and "viz." with "namely".
     

    Susan Y

    Senior Member
    British English
    If you have a particular style guide you are supposed to use you should, of course, follow that. Otherwise, it is really a matter of personal taste and/or local conventions.

    In BE, we rarely use full stops these days in when we write "eg" and "ie". I don't know anyone outside the USA who uses the Chicago Manual, as British/ Australasian usage is different from American.

    Personally, I dislike the use of these abbreviations in formal text (except in footnotes), so I would always use "for example" or "that is" - and, yes, I would follow these with a comma. I would always use namely instead of viz - again, followed by a comma.
     
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    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    In AE I often see a comma in i.e., and e.g., but never in BE (including viz.). Italics are rarely (if ever) used with i.e. and e.g. in BE.
    Not traditionally, but in more recent publications where the full stops are omitted, I see them italicised: ie and eg.

    SE101 - in your personal writing you can decide on whether to use the commas. For publications, just use the recommended house style.
     

    SpanishEnglish101

    Member
    Spanish
    Hi,

    Thank you for your replies.

    So it seems, as Susan Y says, a matter of personal preference. I didn't know that a comma is written after the abbreviations in AmE while it is omitted in BrE. I have always written the abbreviation preceded by a comma with a full stop after them - , e.g. -. What I am going to do is to get a BrE manual of style and an AmE one, and I will stick to them. Otherwise, this can be rather confusing.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    The problem is that BE manuals of style sometimes give different advice to each other, besides advice different what you find in AE style guides.
    So you won't find it easy to reach a view about "e.g." (which is probably more common, at least according to the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language) and "eg" or "eg (which have both gained in popularity in recent years).

    There is also the problem that style guides sometimes repeat the views (or prejudices) of their authors and do not take into account what people actually write.
    As natkretep says, house styles play an important part in published documents.
     

    riverwild

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    Would you think a comma is appropriate in this sentence?:
    'General non-specific thoughts of wanting to end one's life/commit suicide (e.g., "I've thought about killing myself") without thoughts of ways to kill oneself /associated methods, intent, or plan during the assessment period.'

    Because a few paragraphs on down in the same document I've found 'e.g.' used in parenthesis without a comma and I don't know what is right!
     

    riverwild

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    I think that if you read this thread from the top, you'll have your answer.
    Sorry, but I don't see an answer as to why commas are included in some parts of one article and why elsewhere in the same article they are not included?
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Riverwild, it's a matter of punctuation style and it isn't a matter of right and wrong. See for instance punctuation facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about punctuation
    There are two extremes in its use: heavy punctuation and light punctuation. In the 18–19c, people tended to punctuate heavily, especially in their use of commas. Currently, punctuation is more sparing, but individuals and house styles vary in what they consider necessary; the same writer may punctuate more heavily or lightly for some purposes than for others.
    When left to myself, I go for light punctuation (no commas) and even omitting full stops in eg and ie - but when I'm writing for a book or journal, it is the house style that determines what actually appears in print.
     

    riverwild

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    Thanks for your reply natkretep. Would I be right in thinking though that whatever is used ought to be used consistently in the same document?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thanks for your reply natkretep. Would I be right in thinking though that whatever is used ought to be used consistently in the same document?
    Yes, I was just coming back to say that one reason you'll find two different usages in one document is inconsistency, e.g., a typo in one of them. :)
     
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