Could you tell me what the meaning of “I hope this email finds you well” is? Does it mean the writer doesn’t know where the receiver is, or he is not sure whether the receiver can safely receiver this email?

If I send an email to a colleague, he doesn’t give me a reply within the expected time. Can I simply say “Did you receiver my email”? Please give me some example sentences to express “Did you receiver my email” in good business manners.

I think this short sentence “Did you receiver my email” has a tinge of aggressiveness.

Thank you.

  • 1
    To some extent, the email is being "personified" - as something which can "find its way" to the recipient, and/or "find, discover, determine" that recipient's current state of health. I have no opinion as to which of those two "interpretations" applies (or whether both apply). But nobody ever thinks about details like that - it's just a "fixed expression" often included in such contexts. Mar 10, 2020 at 14:53
  • It is similar to the "How are you?" greeting used in speech, which is not inviting an answer. Mar 10, 2020 at 15:08

2 Answers 2


There are two uses of non-literal language here.

First, literally the word "find" means to discover the location of something. Like, "I found my pen in the desk drawer." But "find" can also be used in a non-literal way to mean "discover". That is, you can "find" a fact. Like, "I found that George has a girlfriend now" or "I found a new job".

Second, of course an email cannot discover or know anything. It's not a conscious being. But we often talk of inanimate objects "knowing" things. "I've driven to Chicago so many times that my car knows how to get there by itself!" Etc.

So in the old days of paper letters, it was a common polite phrase to say, "I hope this letter finds you well", meaning, I hope that when this letter reaches you, you are doing well. The writer here has just taken a convention from paper letters and applied it to emails.

  • Thank you Jay. Initially, I thought I could use this sentence “I hope this email finds you well” to express “Did you well receive my email”. Because “find” suggests this email can well find you. Now I know it is not what I think.
    – edgar
    Mar 10, 2020 at 16:03
  • @edgar Yes, I can see someone who is not familiar with idiomatic English coming up with that! Like, "I hope this email finds you successfully." Here "well" is an adjective meaning "healthy", but "well" can also be an adverb meaning "satisfactorily" or "successfully". With a little work you may be able to come up with a joke based on such a misreading. :-) This is the sort of thing that makes learning a new language hard.
    – Jay
    Mar 10, 2020 at 20:11

“I hope this email finds you well” means "I hope you are [feeling] well when you read this email".

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