In the context of the proper use of a ticket-tracking system for software development, someone said:

Do not write project status updates to a limited subset of people in email.

(Instead, send the message from within the ticket-tracking system so that all interested parties can read it.)

The phrase write an update to people seems awkward to me, but I'm having trouble figuring out exactly why. I can see all these alternatives as correct:

  • send an update to people
  • write to people
  • update people
  • write an update for people
  • write an update that you send to people

Is there something wrong with this phrase, as my instincts suggest? Perhaps considering the seemingly equivalent I wrote to people a project status update in email could help, as that phrase also makes me uneasy.

  • Please comment on how my question could be improved. Is it just that you think that I'm incorrect, or is the basic question itself flawed in some way? I'd be happy to improve the question if you will only comment in what way it lacks.
    – ErikE
    Aug 6, 2014 at 20:55
  • Just write people updates and be done with it.
    – tchrist
    Oct 5, 2014 at 23:31

2 Answers 2


Nothing wrong with it, IMO.

Would you say the same thing for "write a letter to people"? As a noun, an update is just news that updates some information.

  • The phrase write a letter to people is implicitly write a letter [addressed] to people. Write an update to people does not seem to mean the same thing to me. "An update" seems like an abstract concept, not the content of the email message (the email message logically contains an update, but is not itself a project status update--the sending of the email is, through its sending, an update, but not in and of itself).
    – ErikE
    Aug 6, 2014 at 20:49
  • @ErikE: After you figure it out, send me an update.
    – Drew
    Aug 6, 2014 at 21:25

It's the "write" part that doesn't seem to do you any good, not the "update" part. The usage of the word "write" is the reason that sentence looks kind of odd as it doesn't help with describing the way the project status update is delivered but merely confuses the reader. Your sentence already contains a verb to go with update (email, it's perfectly fine to say "to email an update").

However, out of the two verbs you proposed, you would have to use "send".

Do you still think it looks weird when using the verb "to email" instead of send/write?

Do not email project status updates to a limited subset of people.

Here's another better-sounding version that would also be acceptable. I replaced "in email" with "via email". "in email" makes it sound like "email" is a language.

Do not send project status updates to a limited subset of people via email

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