Latin, as I’ve probably mentioned quite a few times by now, has been very generous to the English language. We have many words which have evolved quite directly from Latin, as well as many other words which haven’t changed at all. Sometimes though, Latin phrases just sound too archaic, but still, they serve a very useful function. So we compromise, and abbreviate them. More specifically, we usually turn them into initialisms, like e.g. or i.e. that we use regularly. Let’s have a look at what these stand for, and what they mean…
e.g: exempli gratia, meaning for example. Pretty straightforward!
i.e: id est, meaning in other words, or that is. Often confused with e.g. but there is a distinction. E.g. is used to provide an example of something, whereas i.e. is used to put something in other, usually simpler words. You can use it when you say something somewhat long and complicated, and then want to sum that up in a shorter, simpler way.
N.B: nota bene – even if you’d never seen this phrase, you might guess what it means – note well. Again, this one is pretty straightforward: if you want your readers to take note of something specific, you can put N.B. before it. And usually in capitals and bolded too, to make sure they see it.
Re: in re, meaning in the matter of, concerning.
R.I.P: often assumed to stand for rest in peace, which of course works, but it was originally used to stand for requiescat in pace (may he/she rest in peace) or requiescant in pace (may they rest in peace)
AM and PM: I heard someone recently claim that these stand for after morning and post morning, which seems somewhat logical, but sadly, it’s not true. They stand for ante meridiem and post meridiem respectively, meaning before midday and after midday.
etc. and et al: abbreviations of et cetera and et alia, both meaning and the others. While etc. is used to save us from writing a long list of things, et al, of course, should only be used to refer to people.
P.S: post scriptum, meaning after what is written, usually capitalised, like N.B, to make sure your reader notices it.
sic: sic erat scriptum, meaning thus it was written. Usually used when quoting something to indicate that a mistake was made in the original text, and is not yours.