Did you receive an email that starts with the phrase ‘I hope this email finds you well' and you’re wondering what it means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the meaning, examples, and more. We’ll also take a look at why this is a common sign that the email was actually crafted using the help of Open AI’s ChatGPT.
‘I hope this email finds you well’ is a phrase that is commonly used as the first sentence in the body of an email. This is a fairly formal way to essentially say, ‘I hope you are well’ or ‘I hope you are healthy/safe/in good spirits.’
Essentially, the idea is that the sender is saying that they are hopeful that the recipient is ‘well’ at the time they receive the email.
The phrase ‘I hope this email finds you well’ has been adapted from a time when people would write and send letters to one another through the mail. Historically, it was common to begin a letter by stating, ‘I hope this letter finds you well.’
In the past, the expression of hope that a letter would be received by the recipient in a healthy, safe, and comfortable state makes a bit more sense. There would typically be some significant amount of time that would pass between written correspondences, and there was a legitimate chance that the receiver’s circumstances had changed significantly since the last communication.
How would 'I hope this email finds you well' be used in a sentence? Let’s take a look at some examples:
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few months, you’ve probably heard all of the commotion about OpenAI’s ChatGPT. A language model that has been trained to produce text, you’ll find no shortage of think pieces about whether ChatGPT will change the way we think and work.
If you’ve received an email with the phrase ‘I hope this email finds you well,’ it doesn’t necessarily mean that the email was absolutely written using ChatGPT. However, if you play around with the tool and ask it to write emails for different purposes, you’ll find that it will use this phrase (or some variation of it) in the first sentence of the email pretty much without fail.
For example, I asked ChatGPT to write an email to my boss telling them that I won’t be able to come to work today. The email opens with the following paragraph:
“Dear [Boss's Name],
I hope this email finds you well. I regret to inform you that I won't be able to come to work today due to unforeseen circumstances. I apologize for the inconvenience caused by my absence and any disruption it may cause to the workflow.”
Then, I asked ChatGPT to write an email to my neighbor asking them to feed my cat while I was away. Here’s the first paragraph generated by ChatGPT:
Dear [Neighbor's Name],
I hope this email finds you well. I am reaching out to you with a small favor to ask. I will be away from [dates] and I'm looking for a reliable person to take care of my beloved cats, [Cat Name(s)].
Finally, I decided to see if ChatGPT would switch things up if I prompted it to write an email to my best friend about my upcoming birthday party. After all, ‘I hope this email finds you well’ is a fairly formal greeting and would seem a bit odd when communicating with one’s closest friend. Interestingly, the tone did change a bit, but the general approach remained the same. Here is the first section of the generated text:
Dear [Friend's Name],
I hope this email finds you in high spirits! I'm excited to share some wonderful news—I'm hosting a birthday party to celebrate another trip around the sun, and I would be absolutely thrilled if you could join me for the festivities!
If you are suspicious that an email was written by AI, there are a number of other signs you can watch out for.
Some opening phrases that ChatGPT might use to begin an email include:
If asked to create invitations or requests, Open AI’s ChatGPT might use one of these phrases:
When prompted to express appreciation or gratitude, ChatGPT might generate one of the following sentences:
When asked to write an explanation or apology, one of these expressions might show up in an email:
Finally, common closing phrases used by ChatGPT when writing an email include:
Since the phrase ‘I hope this email finds you well’ is so common, it can actually end up coming off as scripted and insincere. When you add in the new factor that also indicates the potential use of ChatGPT to craft the letter, you might find that getting a little more creative is useful.
What are some other phrases you can use to open an email that won’t sound quite so stiff and robotic?
Here are some options:
Depending on the context of the email and your relationship with the recipient, you can choose to be more or less formal when opening an email.
‘I hope this email finds you well’ is a common, formal way to open an email. The implication is that the sender hopes that the recipient is healthy, safe, and otherwise well at the time they are receiving the email.
Since this is such a common expression in email, it is frequently used by ChatGPT when crafting emails. For this reason, spotting ‘I hope this email finds you well’ in an email could indicate that the sender has used AI to write the message.
Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Be sure to check out our idioms and phrases blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!