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One of my colleagues starts his email with a sentence like

"I send the pdf file I just received from the bureau."

every time he sends a file as an email attachment.

The use of the present tense (i.e. "send") always strikes me as odd and if I had to use the same verb, I would write:

"I am sending the pdf file ..."

But then, for some inexplicable reason, the verb "attach" seems to work fine in the present tense just as well as it does in the progressive:

"I attach a draft contract for your consideration."

"I am attaching a draft contract for your consideration."

Would you agree that "I send" sounds unnatural? Could any one shed light on why "attach" works in the present tense but "send" does not?

Thank you.

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  • Perhaps because 'I am sending' fits with the fact that you are still in the process of sending, whereas 'I attach' or, better, 'I have attached' is something that has already occurred.
    – peterG
    Nov 23, 2017 at 15:55
  • With paper mail, a formal letter would often start, "Enclosed please find ..." Perhaps your colleague is trying to recapture the experience of fountain pens and ink blotters.
    – The Photon
    Nov 23, 2017 at 16:58

1 Answer 1

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They are all correct grammatically. And all sound natural to me.

They do not all mean the same thing, however.

Saying that you send, are sending, or will send something does not imply that that something is sent as part of, or along with, the current message.

Saying that you attach or are attaching something to the current message makes clear that that something accompanies the message or is contained within it. The recipient should not expect it to arrive separately.

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  • Thank you. So the "I send.." version sounds natural to you. Action verbs used in the present tense usually refer to repeated actions (e.g. "I eat yogurt for breakfast."). Perhaps "I send the file." means the same as "I hereby send the file"?
    – Barouche
    Nov 25, 2017 at 10:06
  • It does not mean the same thing, in general. The former does generally mean in general (e.g. repeated actions). The point is that all are correct sentences grammatically, and all sound natural.
    – Drew
    Nov 25, 2017 at 15:22
  • I have to disagree with part of this. In the context given in the question (writing an e-mail and attaching a file to it), the simple present version “I send you the file” sounds very unnatural to me. Not at all idiomatic. The progressive “I am sending you the file [here]” is far better, though “I attach/am attaching the file [here]” is better still. And importantly, adding an adverb like hereby makes the simple present perfectly fine too: “I hereby send you the file we were talking about”. But I’ve never seen a native speaker write “I send you the file we were talking about” like that. Dec 24, 2017 at 10:02
  • @JanusBahsJacquet: As I said: all are correct sentences grammatically, and all sound natural (to this native speaker). Whether other sentences might be more helpful of clearer in the context of an email is not really relevant to that. Information about an attachment can also depend, for its helpfulness, on whether the recipient is expecting the attachment, sees that there is an attachment, and any number of other considerations, including the relationship between recipient and sender and the history/context of the mail thread.
    – Drew
    Dec 24, 2017 at 16:03

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