Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Chat and Email

Chat vs Email

Chat and Email are two new communication media that was created along with the internet. In the most basic, the two are very similar, carrying messages in textual form from one device to another. The main difference between the two is with the speed that they occur. Chat is like having an actual conversation where one party says something and expects a reply in a couple of seconds. Email is more like sending ordinary snail mail where you write something and send it but expect a reply in anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

In general, chat is just a type of software while E-mail is a protocol. Email clients subscribe to the same protocols so it does not really matter what software you use to retrieve and send emails as it would work just fine. With chat, that is not always the case as you would need to have the same software in order to chat. I say not always because there are chat clients and services like Meebo that allow users to chat on the most popular chat services without installing clients. The same is also true when it comes to accounts. In order to chat, you need to have an account on the same service as the person you are chatting with. This is not necessary with Email and you can have an account from any provider and you can even establish your own.

A basic requirement with chatting is to ask for permission to add the other person to your list. Without the other person’s permission, you would not be able to start a conversation. This is not true for Email and many people take advantage of this by sending unsolicited emails containing advertisements; these emails are collectively known as spam

Although chat initially started on text only, development in internet speed has allowed the inclusion of audio and video chatting; approximating the experience of talking in person to someone who can be thousands of miles away. Email does not have these capabilities and communication is pretty much limited to typed text.


  1. Chat occurs in near real-time while Email doesn’t
  2. Chat is a type of software while Email is a protocol
  3. Chat requires the permission of both parties while Email does not
  4. Chat is typically software dependent while Email is not
  5. Chat needs accounts on the same provider while Email does not
  6. Chat is able to convey voice and audio while Email cannot

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