This should not annoy me as much as it does, but … here’s a sentence that I see sometimes in books or articles: “I tried unsuccessfully to reach him by email.” I always think, What, you couldn’t find the send button? Or you didn’t know how to get an email account? Of course, that’s never what they mean. But what do they mean? It seems to me that there are two possibilities: either they couldn’t find an email address for the person, or they emailed the person and didn’t get a reply. So why not just say which of those it was?