What is the plural form of email? Is it email? Emails? Email messages? Learn the answer to these questions and more with Grammar Rules from the Writer’s Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.
Maybe I’m just one of those guys who overthinks things (actually, I know that I am), but I often struggle with how to handle my email. Not the actual messages, mind you, though that I do struggle with that too. No, I’m referring to questioning the appropriate way to refer to my email in a plural sense.
On one hand, I think I should handle it the same way I handle mail—except, you know, put an “e” in front of “mail.” Only, it’s not as simple as that, because we receive letters in the mail, but we don’t receive “e-letters.” Rather, we receive “email.” So how do we handle this tangled (inter)web that we weave?
Let’s take a quick look! The answer is actually pretty simple with a few options that work.
What is the plural form of email?
Email is the plural form of email, much like mail is the plural form of mail, when discussing email in a general sense. As in, I’ve got a lot of email. Very general, very correct, but…
Emails is the plural form of email when you get into specific numbers. As in, I’ve received 10 emails from him this morning. This is unlike the plural form of mail, since you wouldn’t say you received 10 mails since last week, though you might say you’ve received 10 letters (though probably more likely bills or advertisements).
Email messages also works as the plural form of email when you get into specific numbers. As in, I’ve received 10 email messages from her this morning. And…
Email messages also works as the plural form of email when used in a general sense. As in, I’ve got a lot of email messages. So while more wordy, maybe this is the “safest” way to roll when making email plural.
Let’s go through a few examples:
Correct: I often have to deal with a lot of email.
Incorrect: I often have to deal with a lot of emails.
Correct: I often have to deal with a lot of email messages.
Correct: I received seven emails from the new client.
Incorrect: I received seven email from the new client.
Correct: I received seven email messages from the new client.
For the sake of concision, many writers and editors may wish to alternate between the plural use of email in a general sense and a specific sense. But I won’t fault anyone who plays it safe by using the term email messages.