Is it e-mail, email, E-mail or Email?

First of all, this is upper-case E if it starts a sentence; if in the middle, just lower case.

To hyphenate or not to hyphenate?

Many people wonder about this when typing the abbreviated version of ‘electronic mail’.

As this is a relatively new word, you will find most variations of spellings backed up in various dictionaries or references. As with many new words, you can back up various spellings by looking across a variety of reference sources.

As ‘e’ represents ‘electronic’, the compound noun ‘e-mail’ is formed from two words, so this suggests that we should not then run one into the other to form ‘email’.

However, do recall that many compound nouns often start life as two words [xxx xxx], then become hyphented for a few years’ use [xxx-xxx], then become a closed compound [xxxxxx].

  • If you look here, you will see how two-part nouns change to serve as closed compound nouns, often going through the etymological change over several years.

As a basic history, when this word first came about, it was more often found to be spelled:

  • email – in US English
  • e-mail – in British English

However, in the last few years, British English has now started to use a closed compound more commonly, with many British English writers now preferring – ‘email’.

I guess, if you are going to adopt ‘email’, then you must ask whether you are also prepared, consistently, to adopt ‘ebusiness’ (rather than ‘e-business’) and ‘ecommerce’ (rather than ‘e-commerce’) – but that’s another topic.

Other words with a single letter at their start:

The below words always take an upper-case start, even in the middle of a sentence:

  • H-beam, H-bomb, T-bone steak, T-shirt, U-turn, X-ray