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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?

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

Your mail was received is acceptable.

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  • 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
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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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