How to write “for example” properly

Many students don’t know how to incorporate the phrases “for example,” “for instance,” and “such as” into their writing.

“For example” and “for instance” are prepositional phrases, so they cannot start a “sentence” unless what follows is truly a sentence with a subject and a predicate.

Good:  I love to eat in August.  For example, corn-on-the-cob is sweet and berries are juicy.

Bad:  I love to eat fresh produce in August.  For instance, corn-on-the-cob and juicy berries.

Good:  In August, I love to eat fresh produce, for example, corn-on-the-cob and juicy berries.

“For example” and “for instance” are synonyms.  They are always followed by a comma (unless they come at the end of a sentence), and if they appear within a sentence, they are always preceded by a comma, much like appositives.

“Such as” has a similar meaning, but is not followed by a comma.

Good:  In August, I love to eat fruit such as juicy berries.

Bad:  In August, I love to eat fruit, such as juicy berries.

Many students are surprised to see “e.g.,” used to replace the words “for example.”  They think the correct abbreviation is “ex.”  But “e.g.,” is the proper way to write “for example.”  The comma is needed after the abbreviation just as it is needed after the words.  Unlike “for example” and “for instance,” “e.g., cannot start a sentence.

Good:  The restaurant offers many seafood meals, e.g., scallops, crab and lobster.

Bad:  E.g., scallops, crab and lobsters are seafood offered by the restaurant.

Want to try your hand?  From the following ten sentences, find the mistakes and fix them.  Not every sentence has a mistake.

  1. Mike prefers mystery writers from the mid-20th century, for example, Raymond Chandler.
  2. Winnie has visited many European countries such as Italy, France, and the UK.
  3. Grandpa collects old silver coins for example, Kennedy half dollars.
  4. We have two school holidays this semester e.g., Labor Day and Thanksgiving week.
  5. The next time I visit Boston, I want to see some historical sites, for instance the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s home.
  6. She writes two blogs. For example, and
  7. Mom uses colored paper clips such as pink, purple and blue, for example.
  8. I love portrait stamps. For instance, the JFK stamp, the Sinatra stamp, and of course, the Elvis stamp.
  9. Evelyn wants a small, stylish car, such as a Mini-Cooper.
  10. Malia can’t decide which necklace to bring, for instance, her pearls or her turquoise choker.



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