I Say E-Mail, You Say Email: WebRef Update Feature | WebReference

I Say E-Mail, You Say Email: WebRef Update Feature

I Say E-Mail, You Say Email -- Let's Call the Whole Thing Off!

The Demise of Email

To hyphenate or not to hyphenate? That is the question we all ask when we type the abbreviated version of electronic mail. Wired Magazine announced that it should be hyphenated. Yet, The New Hacker's Dictionary uses "email" in its glossary and Geek.com uses the hyphen. Personally, I prefer it without the hyphen just because I'm lazy. But Wired does have a point, "e" does represent electronic and therefore e-mail is really two words. Thus, "e-mail" makes sense. However, most of the world is not going to switch overnight and you'll see plenty of "emails" floating around.

Now, that's settled, what about "Web site?" or "Internet?" And the multitude of other words that have only recently become a part of our daily vocabulary?

Well, let's end it once and for all. Here are the facts and resources to help you ensure (and NOT "insure," but that is another story) you're writing web terminology correctly or close to it anyway.


Big I or Little i?

For the longest time, I've been guilty of using "internet" in my references to this great, big "world wide web." After all, I thought the Internet was a noun and because it was not anyone's name or other proper noun, it was not supposed to be capitalized. Well, my logic thinking failed me this time. Because the Internet is the "mother of all internets," it should be capitalized and preceded by "the."

The Net is perfectly acceptable as long as you remember Big N and the "the" word. Hey, I didn't want to end another sentence on "the." Oops, I did it anyway.

Oh, and it is World Wide Web, Web site, and Web. These are all caps. Yet, when we say "webmaster," webcam," or "webzine" we keep them wee bitty.


F-T-P, What Does it Mean to Me?

Some people use "ftp" (file transfer protocol) and others "FTP" and both are correct, depending on how it is used. If you are entering FTP into the URL, ftp is perfectly fine. However, if you're telling someone that she needs to use FTP to send the files to the server, it should big letters. It's an abbreviation and they're capitalized. The same rule applies to HTML (hypertext markup language), GIF (graphical interchange format), JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), GUI (graphical user interface), and LAN (local area network).

Yes, you can use FTP as a verb to say, "I FTP'd my files to the server." Just remember to use the shift key. "Hey, Meryl, Ms. Two Syllables Not One! Why is it "FTP'd" instead of "FTPed?"

As Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof always said, "Tradition!" Actually, I think it's because it looks prettier. OK, I admit it, I don't know and I couldn't find the answer to that one. If you do, give me a ring.

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This article originally appeared in the November 2, 2000 edition of the WebReference Update Newsletter.


Comments are welcome
Written by Meryl Evans and

Revised: November 3, 2000

URL: http://webreference.com/new/webgrammar.html