I'm looking for the right subject for my email autoresponder.

  1. Your mail is received.
  2. Your mail was received.

Which one is correct or more acceptable?


Your mail has been received is better than both your suggestions.

Your mail was received is acceptable.

  • But the mail has been received from the moment I got it. If received is the mail's state, isn't it inaccurate to say was received if it still is in that state, i.e. received? – SmokerAtStadium Mar 28 '13 at 8:01
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    @RaduMiron: Language like this is idiomatically correct or incorrect, not logically accurate or inaccurate. Both these sentences mean the same thing: "I got the email you sent." The present perfect suggests that I will read it when I have time (only people who are very busy and have lots of email every day use this kind of autoresponder); the simple past implies nothing but the receipt of the email. It's a personal preference, not a big grammatical deal. :-) – user264 Mar 28 '13 at 8:21
  • Oh, I know that. But if the question doesn't require a logically accurate answer shouldn't it be marked as not constructive? It could cause quite a stir otherwise – SmokerAtStadium Mar 28 '13 at 8:37
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    @RaduMiron: Maybe some of our learned users would agree with you, but I'm not so stringent about what's constructive & what's not. ELL is for EFL students (even if they're native speakers of English), & people learning a foreign language should be allowed to ask whatever they want to. If no one's interested in the question, it won't be answered. I don't answer all questions, only those that interest me. And when someone else has provided a good answer, I answer only those Qs to which I think my answer can contribute something different from the other answer(s). I'm not a policeman here. – user264 Mar 28 '13 at 8:53
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    Good point. Sorry for the stir. :P – SmokerAtStadium Mar 28 '13 at 9:09

Email may refer to a single communication, but mail may not; you should employ either email or message.

And in this context, where your mailbox is responding and not that of a soulless and impersonal bureaucracy, the passive voice is inappropriate:

I have received your email.

Or, better and more accurate:

Your email has reached my inbox.

Or, if you are anxious to dissociate yourself from your virtual agent:

Your email has arrived at AH's inbox.

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    Actually, "mail" can refer to electronic mail – perhaps we have Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan to thank for that. It looks like some dictionaries are already playing catch-up. That all said, I do believe that using e-mail is indeed better than using mail in this case. – J.R. Mar 28 '13 at 9:33
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    @J.R. You have mail means you have some emails (which may upon inspection prove to be only one), but you don't say you have a mail. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 28 '13 at 10:05
  • Ah! So that's your objection to "your mail was received" – by default, it would typically refer to just one message. I think I see what you were driving at now. – J.R. Mar 28 '13 at 12:40

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