E-mail or Email – Which is Correct?

In the digital age, communication can be instantaneous. We don’t need to wait three days for a bank statement or a letter from a friend. Electronic messaging has changed the way humans interact with one another, for better and for worse.

The most common form of digital communication is e-mail. Writers spell this word several different ways, including email, Email, and E-mail. Continue reading for an explanation of this term.

What is the Difference Between E-mail and Email?

In this post, I will compare e-mail vs. email. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence, so that you can see them in context.

Plus, I will show you a helpful memory tool that you can use as reminder of whether to choose email or e-mail.

When to use E-mail

e-mail versus emailWhat does e-mail mean? E-mail can be a noun or a verb.

As a noun, it is a shortened form of electronic mail, and it describes digital messages sent electronically. There are many types of digital messaging services. E-mail was invented in the second half of the 20th century and predates the Internet.

E-mail has replaced paper mail for a wide variety of correspondence, and is the preferred method of communication in many workplaces.

Here are some examples,

  • “Greg, please complete the monthly audit and send me an e-mail me when you have finished,” said Sandy.
  • Algernon drafted an e-mail to his coworker, but did not send it.

As a verb, e-mail means to send an electronic message.

See the examples below,

  • I e-mailed my professor my essay, but she never responded.
  • “You can just e-mail it to me,” said Jenny, hoping that Bob would stop talking to her about the supply spreadsheet.

E-mail can be conjugated the following ways

  • First person present: I/we e-mail
  • Second person present: You e-mail
  • Third person singular present: He/she e-mails
  • Third person plural present: They e-mail
  • Simple past: E-mailed
  • Present participle: E-mailing

When to Use Email

e mail or email or e mailWhat does email mean? Email is a variant spelling of e-mail. Neither spelling is incorrect, and both are widely accepted.

Some sources recommend that e-mail and email be capitalized, like E-mail and Email. This convention, however, is dying out.

The chart below shows the relative usage of email vs. e-mail in English books since 1980. As you can see, the terms have a relatively short usage history, seeing their first widespread use in the 1990s.

Definition of email definition of e-mail definition

The hyphenated e-mail is more common than the unhyphenated email. The graph, which only graphs books, shows the two appearing a rate of approximately 1.7:1.

E-mail or Email: Which to Choose?

Define email and define e-mailSince this is a newly minted term, there isn’t a single standard form. When it was initially coined, the standout spelling was ­e-mail, and, indeed, this spelling is still the predominate spelling today.

That said, The AP Stylebook states that email is acceptable for all references to electronic mail, so, as I mentioned earlier, both spellings are acceptable. Only time will tell what spelling wins out in the end: although, it is likely to be the unhyphenated email.

It should also be noted that while email has become an accepted spelling, this doesn’t work for every single thing that a technology company puts an e in front of.

For example,

  • e-book
  • e-business
  • e-commerce

The AP Stylebook lists all of these spellings as the preferred spellings. In other words, e-mail is such a popular term that people are now accepting it without the hyphen. Other terms, which are more niche, are not there yet—and they may never be.

So, for the time being,

  • e-mail or email (both accepted)
  • e-book not ebook
  • e-business not ebusiness
  • e-commerce not ecommerce

Summary

Is it email or e-mail? E-mail is a form of electronic messaging. It is also spelled email, though e-mail is more common.

To conclude, default to e-mail unless instructed otherwise.

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