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What is the correct word in the following sentence?

Products will be shipped in the same order they [. . .] ordered.

I am guessing for are or have been, but I'm not sure. Can someone explain?

To clarify: the ordering of the products is both in the past and in the present. The shipping will take place after the ordering of all the products.

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  • Both are and were work. Have been is rather unwieldy. And I would add an in at the end, though I guess it's optional for some people.
    – RegDwigнt
    Jun 3, 2014 at 8:51
  • I agree but don't think the choice between were and are is completely neutral. With are it's more clearly stating an ongoing policy (regarding future orders). That may be a distinction that doesn't matter in context.
    – Rupe
    Jun 3, 2014 at 11:35
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    Also I think it'd also be neglectful not to mention that you still end up with a difficult sentence to read, given the different uses of order. Well, that's how it was for me, the first 8 words reminded me of when amazon ask if I want my stuff dispatched together ("in the same order") or separately. Something like "the order of shipping will be the same as that of the placement of the orders" works better for me (separates the uses of order more, makes the referents of "same as" more explicit, and makes it a bit more instantly obvious what kind of thing each order is).
    – Rupe
    Jun 3, 2014 at 11:38

2 Answers 2

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I agree with RegDwigнt that you could use either were or are here. And I strongly agree with Rupe that the repetition in the sentence of order/ordered in two very different senses has a disturbingly mind-numbing effect. My advice is to discard the first order in favor of sequence and to replace the second ordered with wording that emphasizes the arrival of the orders at the business rather than the time when the order is submitted (the two might be identical for an online business, but not necessarily identical for a business that accepts mail-in orders). Thus, for example:

Products will be shipped in the same sequence in which orders for them reach us.

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Were. This is because in order for the product to be shipped, it has to have already have been ordered - so 'were' refers to this prior action.

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