I work for an organization where almost everybody uses the term "raise an e-mail" when they want the attention of or to communicate with anybody, or when they want approval from an appropriate authority.

For example, when the line manager wants the attention of the juniors on a specific issue he says, "I have raised an e-mail about discipline; please follow that."

My question is about the term "raise an e-mail". Is it a correct term to use in such instances? If not, what term should be used?

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    I'm not even sure what "raise an email" is supposed to mean. – Hot Licks Aug 16 '18 at 19:52
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    Is this from a native speaker or just someone who learned English from other non-native speakers? – tchrist Aug 16 '18 at 21:19
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    It's possible to raise a lot of things: an alarm, a question, a white flag, a stink, chickens, the dead. So it's not terribly surprising that, within certain organizations, "raise an email" may be commonly used as a short form for "raise a point or issue by sending [one or more people] an email [message]." Until the usage becomes more widely established, however, the form will sound strange or simply wrong to people who are not habitués of one of the corporate vivariums where the usage is standard. – Sven Yargs Aug 17 '18 at 19:34
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    You haven't mentioned which English-speaking country you work in, nor the line of work - both of which might be relevant. To my British ears, the expression sounds strange although I understand what it is intended to mean. In pre-computing days, would anyone have referred to "raising a letter"? I think not, so why should it be acceptable to "raise an e-mail"? – TrevorD Aug 21 '18 at 22:11
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    A complication is that 'raised an email' has been used with the (probably legitimate) sense 'brought up the matter of an email [sent by X]': 'Mr Lloyd has previously rejected suggestions he gave special access and research to the Institute of Public Affairs after Labor senators last year raised an email he sent to a member of the group with an attachment showing what he described as "generous" provisions in public service enterprise agreements.' [Canberra Times]. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 9 '20 at 12:43

The verb “raise” can have a different meaning or sense, in that which means “communicate” to someone by phone or radio as outlined in the Cambridge Dictionary

(B2 level) raise verb [T] (COMMUNICATE)

to communicate with someone, especially by phone or radio:

’I've been trying to raise Jack/Tokyo all day.’ *

  • This sentence does not mean the narrator is looking after a child as would what would be normally meant by “to raise a child/person”. If it had this meaning, it surely wouldn’t make sense.

So it means something along the lines of “to pass on an email/to convey information/to contact”.



I have heard the expression.

I also understand it to mean what you describe: to email somebody about something in order to get or provide clarification.

It likely has its source in the parallel expressions raise your hand, raise a flag, or raise a point of order. It's a way of signalling that you want somebody's attention about something.

While it's something that doesn't sound altogether strange to me, it's not an expression I would use myself.

Having said that, if everybody at your company uses the expression, then it has idiomatic use at your company. So, it's certainly appropriate within the context of you and your peers.

However, if you're looking for an alternative because you want to phrase it more naturally in general, then try:

I have sent an email.
I am going to send an email.

  • Although anything that we say about it is bound to be guesswork, the example of the use of the phrase that is given in the question suggests that it might be a condensed version of 'to raise an issue by e-mail'. – jsw29 Aug 17 '18 at 16:15

It is probably a "contamination" from other constructs. It is a grammatical, but in my opinion, unusual construct.

Compare to

How do I raise a complaint

From link

Lawyers raise memo against ongoing detention of Darfuri sheikhs

From link


Murder in Ryan school: Parents raise memo with 13 demands; Principals assure action From link

  • What justification do we have for 'it is grammatical'? 'Raise a question' will doubtless be found in dictionary examples, but 'raise an enigma' is probably unacceptable. Many verbs have restricted sets of direct objects that are available (especially metaphorical candidates). – Edwin Ashworth Jan 9 '20 at 12:12
  • Well, 'raise an enigma’ is grammatical, as are most or all phrases 'raise <noun phrase>' but probably meaningless, unless you are very creative with language. – Stefan Jan 10 '20 at 16:00
  • OK; so 'grammatical', but OP asks whether it is acceptable. The examples you give seem to be from largely non-Anglophone countries. I'd say 'jargon at best, possible to misunderstand by those not in the loop, best avoided outside that loop' rather than 'unusual'. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 10 '20 at 17:54
  • You might be right. Indias largest common language is English so maybe it could be argued that the idiomatic form is “acceptable”, whatever that means. English is not my native language so my view of it might be (probably is) wrong. – Stefan Jan 10 '20 at 21:13
  • Unless tags are added, Indian English is not considered to be being discussed (as 'standard'). – Edwin Ashworth Jan 11 '20 at 16:44

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