‘I Hope This E-Mail Finds You Well’

This phrase, beloved of vendors of products and services you probably don’t want and with whom you are unacquainted, is puzzling.

What do they mean?

The first possibility is that the sender hopes (or pretends, for the sake of fake-friendliness) that when the e-mail finds me, I am well.

That is, healthy, in a state of contentment etc.

That interpretation is unlikely not only because it presupposes the sincerity of the wish, but also because I am 99.999% sure that the sender would use good (not the grammatically correct well) in response to the question ‘How are you?’

The only other possibility is that the sender is hoping that the e-mail finds me well in the sense of its having travelled ’directly’ or ‘without difficulty’ to me through the ether.

Now that we’ve entered the third decade of e-mail’s widespread use as a communications tool, it is wholly unnecessary to be asking that very 1990s question, ‘Did you get my e-mail?’

Oh, it found me all right (and I wish it hadn’t). If it hadn’t, you’d have received a bounce-back.

Since the possible meanings of I hope this e-mail finds you well are either unlikely or inane, can we please consign this leaden opener to the dustbin of sales clichés?

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)


  1. Steve Coughlan

    “That would be grammatically correct, so it can’t be what they meant” is just about the most smug take imaginable on this wording.

    It’s also misplaced smugness, since the existence of the common “I hope this email finds you well/here is how the email found me” meme (for example, https://sayingimages.com/hope-this-email-finds-you-well-memes/) shows the general understanding of how it is understood.

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