Monthly Archives: January 2014

Latin words in English writing?

Teaching a writing class leads to some awesome questions from my students. As a result of an interesting discussion, today I’ll show you how to use ‘i.e.’ and ‘e.g.’ in formal academic papers. They are both Latin abbreviations, but their meanings are different.

e.g. is Latin for “exempli gratia.” In English, we say “for example.” I like many things about Vancouver, e.g. the weather, the people, and the restaurants. (Some people remember this one as “examples given.” Not technically a good translation, but it works.)

i.e. is Latin for “id est.” In English, this means “that is to say.” We use this to introduce more specific detail about a topic. “We weren’t ready for this project, i.e. we needed to do more preparation before we started.”

There are two more expressions from Latin that we see in writing: et cetera and et al.

et cetera is Latin for “and more of the same.” People often use this at the end of a list to show that there are more possible things. The store sells everything for your body, including makeup, soap, shampoo, et cetera. If you use it as an abbreviation, write “etc.” This is not as commonly used as it once was, because it gives an impression of the author being too lazy to finish the list.

et al. is Latin for “of other things/places/people.” This is most often used as an abbreviation in a bibliography, to show that many authors wrote a paper. If John Smith, Joan Doe, Jane Brown and Joe Robinson wrote a paper together, a common citation in the text is Smith et al. “According to Smith et al., the main problem is…” Notice that there is a period after al, because it is an abbreviation.


Here we go…?

A student asked me “Dave, what is the difference between ‘here you go,’ ‘there you are,’ there you go,’ ‘way to go,’ and ‘here we go?’” We ended up having a good discussion about these common phrases and when to use them. Here’s how you can use these expressions in your life.

Here you go/Here you are: We use these to announce that something we want is here. They mean the same thing.

Customer: “Medium coffee, please.”

Barista: “Here you go. Careful, it’s hot.”

Customer: “Could you pass the sugar?”

Barista: “Sure, here you are.”

There you go: This is mostly used in arguments, and means something like “I told you so!”

Student A: I think Vancouver is the largest city in Canada.”

Student B: “No, Toronto is larger.”

Student A: “I’m going to ask Google.”

Student B: “You’ll find that I am right…”

Student A: “Oh, Toronto is the biggest! I was wrong.”

Student B: “There you go.”

Here we go: This shows that we are starting an activity.

Driver: “Are you ready?”

Passenger: “Yes!”

Driver: “Ok, here we go!”

Way to go: This means “Congratulations!”

Student: “I got 89% in English class!”

Parent: “Good job! I knew you would pass your test! Way to go!”

The Period

People often don’t know that English has three (or four) names for this punctuation mark. If you use the wrong one, Canadians will understand you, but you will sound strange.

At the end of sentence, it is called a period, or a full stop in England.

In mathematics, it is called a point. For 3.14, say “Three point one four.”

On the internet, we say dot. For, say “google dot sea eh.”

University classes for free?

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are becoming more and more popular. Blending university-style subjects with free online learning, they are an easy way to gain understanding in a new area. I was recently told about two classes from that you may be interested in: Public Speaking  (Starts on January 7, takes 10 weeks to complete) and Principles of Written English (Starts on January 16, takes 5 weeks to complete.)

I also discovered two more from Writing Composition  (Starts in April, takes 12 weeks to complete) and Applying to US Universities (Starts in March, takes 4 weeks to complete).I’ve taken courses from, and I really enjoyed them.

Sign up for free, and good luck!