Thursday, August 8, 2013

write me: Common Errors in English Usage Entry for Thursday, August 8, 2013

write me
Many UK English speakers and some American authorities object strongly to the common American expression “write me,” insisting that the correct expression is “write to me.” But “write me” is so common in US English that I think few Americans will judge you harshly for using it. After all, we say “call me”—why not “write me”? But if you’re an American trying to please foreigners or particularly picky readers, you might keep the “write me” phobia in mind.

If you disagree, please don’t write me.


  1. I saw once that the correct expression was "Telephone to me". Now we say "phone me".

    Also, please say English and American English, not UK or British English. You don't say French French, do you?

    1. The distinction in these pages is between the two predominant forms of English--that which is used in the US and that which is used in the UK, Australia, Canada, and most of the rest of the world. The labels "UK English" and "American English" are consistently used only for the purpose of clarifying that distinction, and are intended to neutralize the two forms. To call one of them simply "English" and the other "American English" would confuse things and suggest that American English is in some way not the English language. For better or worse, English as spoken and written in the US is still called English. This has nothing to do with naming rights to the language--that clearly belongs to England proper.

      If I were writing about French and needed to make a point about Canadian French, of course I would never write simply "Quebecois French vs. French" (or, worse, your facetious suggestion: "Quebecois French vs. French French") That would be quite unhelpful. I would clarify by writing "Quebecois French vs. French as written and spoken in France," or if I wanted to use an established shorthand I might write "Quebecois French vs. Parisian France," as long as it was understood that the only point of using the phrase "Parisian French" was to cut down the wordiness and not to designate Paris as the one center for the French language as spoken and written in France.

      The intent is not to lay claim to the language; the intent is to set parameters for discussion and then to make a point about language usage.

  2. I would call it British English, because I presume they follow the same conventions in Scotland and Wales. Canadian English or Indian English or Australian English or Nigerian English is another matter.

    But back to the topic at hand, "write me" is not really equivalent to "call me" because it uses "me" as an indirect object. One writes the letter to a person. I used to say "write me" to some people, but not to British people. The reason I no longer say it much anymore is that now I say "email me" or "text me" or "message me" or "facebook me" instead.