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There are no e-mails in your spam folder

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sunyaer, May 27, 2013.

  1. sunyaer Senior Member

    Self-made sentence:

    1. "There are no e-mails in our spam folder."

    2. "There is no e-mail in our spam folder."

    In the above sentences, one uses collective noun while another uses plural, which is the natural way to express the idea? (I do not see the difference.)
    Last edited: May 27, 2013
  2. boozer Senior Member

  3. Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    I disagree, boozer. You can use "e-mail" as a mass noun, and I would read "There is no e-mail in our spam folder" as meaning "there are no e-mail messages in our spam folder". I think the sentences have identical meanings, but I would use the second one. Likewise "when I came back from holiday there was a lot of e-mail waiting for me" - not "there were many e-mails waiting for me".
  4. sunyaer Senior Member


    When I open the spam folder in yahoo.com account, I always get "there are no e-mails in your spam folder."
  5. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Forget the folder

    The question is whether "e-mail" is an acceptable replacement for "e-mail message."

    There seems to a difference of opinion here.

    The dictionary is no help and Yahoo electronic mail cannot be considered authoritative.

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    e-mail, email /ˈiːmeɪl/n

    I don't think anybody objects to " send a message via e-mail" but that's not the same as "I'll send you an e-mail."
  6. LVRBC Senior Member

    English-US, standard and medical
    {I don't think anybody objects to " send a message via e-mail" but that's not the same as "I'll send you an e-mail."dgraham}​

    "I'll send you an email," is universally used among people I know. That may not make it correct, since the dictionary has a lag time, but it is the form in current use around here. Oregon's not that far away and I'd be surprised if it were different there.
  7. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    In today's world of the Internet, one's physical location at a point in time is irrelevant when it comes to Internet-based terms, but I purposely avoided offering an opinion. :)

    (I am neither for nor against apathy)
    Last edited: May 28, 2013
  8. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    The fact remains that email (or e-mail) can be countable or uncountable today. (I'll send you an email. I got a lot of email today.) So for the opening post, both options are available. The second sentence ('There is no e-mail in our spam folder') can also be understood not in terms of uncountable use but as a singular, as mentioned by boozer. In this way, the second sentence is ambiguous.
  9. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    Actually, I'd say "the spam folder is empty". I don't consider spam to be e-mail.
  10. boozer Senior Member

    Yes, what Andy and others have pointed out is the traditional interpretation of 'e-mail' based on the very old and well-established word 'mail', which is uncountable. I agree that from this perspective they have made a good point. On the other hand, time lag or not, the Cambridge dictionary does list the other meaning of e-mail: 'a message or document sent using this system'. They display the word as decidedly countable. Indeed, I must admit that I perceive 'e-mail' as a countable noun as given here, hence my interpretation in post 2 (hey, why e-mail and not 'e-post' :D): http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/email_1?q=e-mail

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