Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 09:23:51 +0000
From: Peter McGraw
Subject: Re: e-mail/paper mail

On Wed, 17 Jun 1998 12:08:30 -0400 Bob Haas

> I've heard "snail mail" for so long that I believed that it was
comman parlance for hard copy. BTW, in keeping with that metaphor,
did anyone suggest "hard mail?" And the plural of "e-mail" is simply
"e-mail," is it not?

I'd say "e-mail" is either singular or collective, but not plural. It
seems perfectly natural to say, "He sent me three e-mails yesterday."

BTW, there was a discussion awhile (a couple of years?) ago on this
list prompted, as I remember, by a New York Times solicitation of
opinion as to the grammar of the singular of the term. The question,
as I recall, boiled down to, "Does one say 'AN e-mail'?" I was one who
piped up and said that seemed unnatural to me and that I would tend
to say "an e-mail MESSAGE." I'm sure others said the same, though I
don't remember how many did or how many found "an e-mail" acceptable.

Whenever that was, the medium was still that much newer, and my sense
is that "an e-mail" has become well established in the meantime. I
personally use "an e-mail" probably several times a day. Is there
anyone out there who would still find it unnatural?


Peter A. McGraw
Linfield College
McMinnville, Oregon