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I have often seen people writing a line like this in emails:

I have copied xyz on this email.

This reads funny to me. I always thought it should be "I have copied this email to xyz". That makes more sense to me.

Is the first usage correct? How did it come into being?

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The Oxford English Dictionary definition 1c of the verb copy includes:

to provide (someone) with copies of correspondence, etc., on a particular subject for information. (Common in office use.)

The entry has this supporting citation from a novel published in 1983:

LaSalle pushed a file jacket across the table, and Harper flipped through the pages.‥ ‘You'll copy me on all this?’ said Harper.

So the answers to your question are that copy followed by a human direct object is established and recognised and that it has been around for almost 30 years, and possibly longer.

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