1

Are the following phrases correct?

To mail a package

To send something, other than an envelope, in the mail

To put something, other than an envelope, in the mail for someone

To send something, other than an envelope, by mail

I don't know where I've gotten the idea that mail is usually used for envelopes, and packages are normally shipped.

  • Do you have a preference for English dialect or location? It might make a difference here. – 1006a Mar 8 '18 at 17:41
  • Well, I live in Los Angeles, and I moved here a year ago, so I'm not sure if there is a specific terminology specific to here. – Bahram Mar 8 '18 at 22:42
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You are correct

envelopes

are mailed and

packages

are shipped.

An ambiguity occurs since smaller packages, which can be carried by hand are also said to be mailed, whereas larger packages, which need lifting equipment, or containers are said to be shipped.

  • 2
    I don’t think this distinction is as clear as you make it (at least not in AmE ) I just asked my husband to mail my sister’s birthday present which was a package of significant size. Companies ship packages to me, but if I take a package to the post office, I mail it, not ship it. Maybe I would ship it if I were fulfilling a business transaction instead of sending it to my family though. – ColleenV Mar 8 '18 at 17:14
  • Native AmE speaker here. I use both "mail" and "ship" to refer to what I do with packages. "Ship" does feel a bit more formal. Either (as @ColleenV said) it's part of a business transaction, or maybe I'm sending it a very long way—overseas, probably. And regardless of distance, or whether it's business, I would always say I was "mailing" an envelope. – spoko Mar 8 '18 at 22:45
  • That's what I had been leaning toward. "Shipment" is a term I hear more often in business settings - and sounding like postoffice terminology- than in informal conversations. I don't remember hearing things like, I'm shipping a package today... – Bahram Mar 8 '18 at 22:52

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