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I have often written sentences in the following form which combines a statement with a question, separated by a semicolon. For example,

I understand you have received payment for my order; will it ship by Monday?

Is this use of the semicolon correct, and is the semicolon commonly used in questions?

marked as duplicate by Mari-Lou A, p.s.w.g, tchrist, user49727, aedia λ Dec 9 '13 at 21:29

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  • I'm not sure I'd call that "incorrect," but I think a dash would work better: I understand you have received payment for my order – will it ship by Monday? – J.R. Nov 3 '13 at 11:28
  • I have no concerns about the question mark. But using 'ship' as an active verb is contrary to all my instincts! It is not 'it' that is doing the shipping. The process of 'shipping' is something that 'it' is suffering passively. So in my view one has to say 'will it be shipped by Monday?' Moreover it is not 'the order' which is being shipped. I think I would have to say 'Will the goods be shipped by Monday?' – WS2 Nov 3 '13 at 12:12
  • @WS2: presumably you would be happier with "will you ship it by Monday?" – Henry Nov 3 '13 at 12:26
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    Using ship in this way seems acceptable use, particularly in the era of online ordering. Commericial websites often say the likes of This will ship by Monday, or, This will ship by air. Macmillan offers an example usage of the verb ship: Version 4.0 should ship in a week or two. I have no problem with "Will the goods be shipped by Monday?" but the original wording is fine as-is. – J.R. Nov 3 '13 at 12:34
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    @WS2: I agree it's part of the changing nature of English. I would disagree we have here an example of such changes "taken to extremes." Personally, I'm glad language continues to evolve and adapt – thou canst quoth me on that. – J.R. Nov 3 '13 at 12:50
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punctuation mark: a punctuation mark (;) used to separate parts of a sentence or list and indicate a pause longer than a comma but shorter than a period

A semicolon is used to separate two parts of a sentence that have a relationship to each other in terms of meaning when each part could stand alone as a sentence in its own right: The building is chiefly a tourist attraction; it is rarely used as a church these days.There is no proof that the disease is caused by agricultural use of this chemical; however, experts admit that there could be a link. Semicolons may also separate parts of a complex list when it would be confusing to use commas for this purpose: We invited Jack and Kate, who live next door; Maria, my sister-in-law; Tom, an old school friend of my husband's; and some of our colleagues from work. Like commas, semicolons are sometimes used to break up a lengthy complicated sentence, but it is often better and clearer to split the sentence up into smaller units.

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