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April 7, 2003
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To switch to "a piece of e-mail" would make you idiomize "piece" (since real mail comes in pieces). I prefer using "an e-mail" since it doesn't do that; it seems more accurate.
Given that "e-mail" is a new word in the language, how it is used is totally determined by the populace; "rules" just don't apply. As a student in the language I am sure that you realized early on that all the English "rules" were merely statements of general use. Taking all that into account, I prefer accuracy in the statement.
There are words that I wonder about, for instance is "daikon" a non-count or countable noun?
Also in Japanese, many Japanese really don't have a notion of "iru" and "aru" down very well; it seems to change from person to person and is very situational. This is more confusing to me.
If I saw the apple and the orange as a pair I would say "There was some fruit." Not to be facetious, but how you say something indicates how you saw it. If you say " There was an apple and an orange." then you perceived two different objects that were together, not a pair of like objects.
I don't think this is a "great question" as such. The "be" verb used is in the singular because the "be" verbs used prior to a conjunctive phrase are geared to the first part of the conjunction.
Ex. There were droplets and an intermittent drizzle.
This also applies to the the use of indefinite articles.
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