Is it correct to abbreviate E-mail addresses to E-mails?

Is one more formal than the other?

  • 4
    e-mail is now usually lowercase, and very often written without a hyphen as email.
    – user230
    Oct 13, 2014 at 0:59

5 Answers 5


There seems to be some debate on this one, but I'd say that no, they are not the same thing, except sometimes.

An email, as CarSmack suggests, generally refers to an email message, whereas an email address is a specific, well, email address.

That said, people very frequently refer to email addresses as emails.

Yes, I have your email.

That, in almost every case, would mean I have your email address. I think I actually hear that more than I even hear "I have your email address." They're at least 50/50.

If I wanted to convey that I have an email message, I would say either of these:

Yes, I got your email.
Yes, I have your email open.

In those cases, most if not all of the time, people will know you're talking about messages.

That said, just to add some extra confusion:

You wrote down my email, right?
Yeah, I got it.

In that case, it could really mean either one. Either the asker is frivolously suggesting the recipient to copy an email down to paper, or they want to confirm that the other person wrote down their email address.

This is also present on many forms.

Take Outlook, even. Outlook is probably the most popular email client out there, and its contact management portion refers to addresses only as "email."

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Nobody would read that and expect to copy in a full email message from someone.

So really, like many other caveats of the English language, it's just a matter of context. People virtually never say "email message" (I don't think I've ever heard that, actually), and call those "emails," but people can, based on context, refer either to addresses as "email addresses" or "emails." And I don't think it really has anything to do directly with formality. It might be more formal in some circumstances to make sure you're clear and avoid ambiguity, in which case "email address" might make more sense, but it's certainly nothing directly related to formality like, for instance, "y'all" versus "you all."

  • +1 Perhaps you have shown that email can be a short form for email address. As in: I need your email. But does the same hold true when talking about the plural? This was the form of the OP. So, can I have/need your emails ever mean I have/need your email addresses.?
    – user6951
    Oct 12, 2014 at 22:11
  • Yep, I would take the pluralization as a contextual hint that we might be talking about messages, but it doesn't determine it either way. It's not exactly the same, but imagine "You have one of my emails, right?" I hear that from time to time, and it means addresses. And "I have so many emails" is completely ambiguous between meaning addresses and messages. Unfortunately I don't have quite as solid an argument on that as showing an Outlook screenshot for that, but I know I do hear people (myself included) say things like that from time to time. Oct 12, 2014 at 22:14
  • @CarSmack Come to think of it, I can imagine a pollster saying "We collected 500 emails," where it would be fairly clear that they were referring to addresses and not messages. Oct 12, 2014 at 22:38
  • 3
    This answer is definitely representative of actual usage. It's not all that dissimilar to how people use "phone" - Often at the checkout or ordering a pizza or what have you, they'll ask "can I get your phone". Surely I'm not handing a $800 phone over to some checkout clerk!
    – corsiKa
    Oct 13, 2014 at 0:25
  • 2
    @corsiKa: I don't think I've encountered that use of "phone". In the parts of the U.S. where I've lived, the usual shorthand for "phone number" is "number". (Which is interesting, come to think of it. The whole thing seems pretty arbitrary. I'm quite used to "cell" meaning "cell-phone number", but I would certainly do a double-take if someone asked me for my "home".)
    – ruakh
    Oct 13, 2014 at 3:52

I would like to know if it is correct to abbreviate E-mail addresses to E-mails. Is one more formal than the other?

E-mail addresses and E-mails are two different things.

E-mails refer to the individual mail messages that are written and sent via electronic means. Your inbox probably has e-mails in it.

This is different from e-mail addresses, which are the "electronic" addresses I need to send people one or more e-mails. Your address book probably has e-mail addresses in it.

Therefore, E-mails is not an abbreviation for E-mail addresses.


Nothing is 100% (there are people that don't know better) but "Emails" in the plural is almost always referring to messages. You would never tell a group of people to "Give me your emails" if you wanted addresses. In the singular it is ambiguous. If you were telling them to fill ina form you might well say "include your email" but then it's clear from the context that address is what you want.


Referring to an email address as an "email" is wrong in exactly the same way that referring to a telephone number as a "telephone" is wrong.

  • Except for the fact that the common abbreviation “number” (like in “here is my number”) exists but a corresponding counterpart “address” would be ambiguous in many contexts. But apart from that, a good analogy, since it actually carries the same nuances Matthew pointed out: there are forms with fields labeled “phone” and people know what that means from context. So +1 from me.
    – MvG
    Oct 13, 2014 at 14:58

I would recommend using emails in all circumstances; using email addresses, while technically also correct, will come across as excessively precise.

That said, it is fine to use email addresses when you want to explicitly distinguish between those and email messages.

  • So, I have five emails for Sam can mean I have five email addresses for Sam?
    – user6951
    Oct 12, 2014 at 19:09
  • 3
    I would normally interpret "I have five emails for Sam" as meaning that you have five messages intended for electronic delivery to Sam.
    – tobyink
    Oct 12, 2014 at 19:32

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