Common Latin Terms in Writing

Common Latin Terms in Writing
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Although Latin is also called a dead language, because there’s no country that would have it as its official language, it has had a great influence on other languages. Latin expressions are present in many different languages all over the world and are especially common in academic and scientific papers. Although writers of dissertations, term papers, and other formal papers are usually asked to avoid foreign expressions unless there is no right equivalent in English, there are some Latin words and phrases that are considered standard in the academic world. This is a reason why experts from decided to provide you with the necessary information on these terms.

There are two most common Latin expressions, and they are also confused most often. These are exempli gratia, abbreviated as e.g., and id est, abbreviated as i.e. The first expression means for example, while the second one literally translates as that is and means in other words. Students often think that these expressions can be used interchangeably, which is a common mistake. If you want to say “for example,” use e.g., and if you want to say “that is,” use i.e.

We recommend that you use e.g. when providing examples with no intention to list everything that can illustrate the topic. We also recommend that you define a category and then follow it with e.g. and a few things that belong to this category:

There are many ethnic minorities in the U.S. (e.g., Armenians, Greeks, Moroccans).

Use i.e. when you need to clarify what you’ve already stated before or to explain what you’ve just said in other words:

Elephants are pachyderms (i.e., animals that have thick skin).

To distinguish i.e. and e.g., think of e.g. as an abbreviation for example given, and i.e as an abbreviation for in essence.

Finally, if you’re not sure what expression to use, you can always replace them with a simple “in other words” or “for example.” There’s no rule that would require you to use i.e. and e.g.

Dos and Don’ts

You don’t have to italicize these expressions when writing, as they have become a part of the standard lexicon and English language. They are italicized in this article just to make it easier to read.

Given that e.g. and i.e. are abbreviations, you must always use periods after each letter, with no spaces between them.

Keep in mind that American English requires you to separate these abbreviations with commas, as shown in the examples above.

Such sources as the APA Publication Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style recommend that you use i.e. and e.g. only in parentheses, as shown in the examples above. If you’re not using parentheses, we suggest that you choose an English equivalent instead: “for example” for e.g. and “in other words” or “that is” for i.e.

Another Problematic Term

A CV is a very important thing for everyone’s career development, so make sure that you talk about it properly. “CV” stands for “curriculum vitae,” which means “course of life.” This is a singular form. The plural form of this expression is curricula vitae, while the short informal form is vita. Therefore, singular and plural forms are abbreviated as “CV” and “CVs.” You can use both curriculum vitae and vita as singular forms but avoid the incorrect form curriculum vita.

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