Grammar Rules for Emails. Send it!

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This English grammar blog post is dedicated to our business English client Dennis T., who asked about the verb “send.” Thank you, Dennis!

Using the common little verb “send” can actually be quite tricky, both because it is an irregular verb and because of the D and T endings. In English, final Ds are often pronounced with a T sound, such as in the words watched, cooked, liked. Thus, the pronunciation of these words actually makes them harder to spell. Plus, this sound shift creates confusion about tense and when to use which form.

Send is an irregular verb

The infinitive form is send, the past and perfect forms are sent. Be sure to pronounce these words correctly.

Send is pronounced the way it is spelled!

Practice saying send, sent, sent and exaggerate the D and T sounds. The T is plosive and produces a pop of air. The D does not pop. It is a heavier, darker sound. If the difference is not clear to you, try practicing these words:

send: dad, did, dude
sent: tote, tart, toot

Nine sample sentences for tense: practice them aloud with proper pronunciation–

1. Present simple (used for habits, facts, customs and repeated behaviors)
I send many emails every day.

2. Present continuous (used for what’s happening NOW. Actions that are temporary.
I am sending you an email right now, while we are on the phone.

3. Present simple for the future with will and going to
I will (I’ll) send the email in a second / in one minute / this afternoon / tomorrow.
I will (I’ll) send the package next week.
I am going to send (I’m going to send) the package on Tuesday.

4. Past (completed action in the past)
I just sent the email.
I sent you an email this morning / 5 minutes ago / yesterday / last week.

5. Past continuous (a continuous/progressive action, completed in the past)
I was sending an important email when the Internet went down.

6. Present perfect (an action in a time period connecting to now, such as today, this week, this month)
I have sent hundreds of emails this week.

7. Present perfect continuous (a continuous/progressive action in a time period connecting to now, such as recently, lately, the last few days)
Recently, I have been sending so many emails that I can write them really quickly.

8. Past perfect (an action in the past before another action in the past: the relationship of those two actions)
I had just sent her a long email when she rang me.

9. Past perfect continuous (continuous/progressive action in the past before something else happened in the past: the relationship of those two actions)
I had been sending so many emails that I decided to create a template to make it go faster.

OK! But in order to truly master the simple little word SEND, we have to dive into more English grammar. Let’s begin with the present simple tense.

English grammar rules for present simple tense

Use present simple to talk about schedules, habits, customs, repeated behaviors and scientific facts. We use this form to talk about things that are stable and NOT temporary. Things that were true in the past, are true now, and will probably be true in the future. We often use always or never with present simple sentences.

The train leaves at 6:00. The team meets at 9:00 on Mondays. The presentation begins at 11:00. The train departs at 4:05.
What time does the meeting begin?
We leave for the US tomorrow.

Repeated actions
I send my boss a report every day. I never eat lunch at my desk.
He never sends attachments with his emails.

We celebrate New Year’s Eve with fireworks. How do you celebrate New Year’s? I send holiday greeting cards (Christmas cards) every December.

Scientific facts
Water boils at 100 degrees. The earth orbits around the sun.

Verbs of state
— such as like, love, smell, want, need, prefer, know, suppose, mean, understand, remember, belong, fit, contain, consist, seem, realize.

Verbs of state rules are tricky

Please note that in spoken English, people sometimes break the rule about verbs of state, but you should not do that in written business communication. Thus, in casual conversation over dinner, you may say, “I am loving this fish! It’s delicious.” This is technically incorrect, but it’s becoming more common in informal spoken English and in advertising. Do you remember McDonalds, “I’m lovin’ it!” campaign?

But in a business email, please do not write, “We are liking your proposal.” ☹ Instead, write, “We like your proposal.”

Verbs of state examples (following the rules)

I like our new office.
I prefer Apples to PCs.
I remember you from the last conference.
This report looks messy.
I recommend the café on the corner.
I realize now that I will never like my boss.

Verbs of state examples (breaking the rules) in casual, spoken English. Do not do this on a test!

I’m really loving our new office.
Oh yeah, I’m remembering that grammar rule now.
This report is looking pretty messy to me.
I’m recommending the café on the corner a lot these days. It is so good!
I’m realizing now that I will never like my boss. 🙁

Verbs of state + to

Use the present simple form of the verb with “to.”

I want to send the report before noon.
I need to send it right now.
I like to send emails with lots of emojis.
I have to send this to my colleague for review.

Modal Verbs: Present simple with modal verbs such as must, can, could, should, do, does, did

We must send the complete report today if we want to keep the client happy.
They can send everything to my address and I will share it.
They could complete and send the review this week if they had more help.
We should send all the info before 17:00.
If I were you, I would send that to the entire team.
Would you send me a link to that article?
Do you send a report every week?
Does she send good meeting notes every week?
Did you send the notes last week?

Send in third person singular form

Be sure to add S when you use present simple in declarative sentences with third person nouns & pronouns.
Stephanie always sends emails with perfect grammar.
He sends greeting cards to top clients on their birthdays.
Tom sends out lots of email with mistakes.

English grammar test! Can you fix these incorrect sentences with “send?”

1. I sends it now.
2. I sending it now.
3. I send it to your colleague now.
4. We send the final report this afternoon. (It is morning now.)
5. I send it while we are speaking.
6. I send it while we were speaking.
7. I send it just now / 5 minutes ago / two hours ago / yesterday / last week.
8. We sends it tomorrow to the entire team.
9. I am sending it every week on Friday.
10. Do you sent it now?
11. Did you sends it?
12. Can you sent it?
13. Were you senting it digitally or by post?
14. To sent it with DSL will be too expensive.
15. She send almost 100 emails every day!

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This article was written and edited by English Center Teachers:  Brenda de Jong-Pauley and Kerry Finlayson. 

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