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My coworker believes this is grammatically correct:

This is a special order item, if the stock status is yellow, this product may or may not be in stock.

I think he's wrong and the correction would be below.

This is a special order item. If the stock status is yellow, this product may or may not be in stock.

Thoughts? He says that both are technically correct but the former is less restrictive.

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For more clarity, he believes that his sentence says two things:
1.) This is a special order item if the stock status is yellow.
AND
2.) If the stock status is yellow, this product may or may not be in stock.

Whereas mine only says the latter, while declaring that the item is a special order item. I feel that the only way to say both of those things would be something like below:

If the stock status is yellow, this is a special order item. In that case, this product may or may not be in stock.

Hello, Forrest, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

@Forrest posted:

My coworker believes this is grammatically correct:

This is a special order item, if the stock status is yellow, this product may or may not be in stock.

I think he's wrong and the correction would be below.

This is a special order item. If the stock status is yellow, this product may or may not be in stock.

Thoughts? He says that both are technically correct but the former is less restrictive.

I agree with you that the first wording is wrong and the second one, correct.

I suggest the following revision based on the idea that the text seems to convey, that is,  that the item being a special one, its stock being marked in yellow may mean that the item may or may not be in stock. There is, as I see it, an inferential meaning that can be expressed by an em dash:

- This is a special order item — if the stock status is yellow, this product may or may not be in stock.

. . . the item being a special one, its stock being marked in yellow may mean that the item may or may not be in stock.

@Forrest posted:

Is there a way to convey your revised message while also indicating that the item is only a special order item if the stock status is yellow?

Hello, Forrest, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

I agree with you that the first example ("This is a special order item, if the stock status is yellow, this product may or may not be in stock.") is a run-on sentence with a comma-splice error.

"This is a special order item" is an independent clause, and "if the stock status is yellow, this product may or may not be in stock" is another independent clause, and there is no coordinating conjunction between them, just a comma.

As you and Gustavo discuss possible revisions, there is a problem I'd like to address which seems already to be causing confusion. There needs to be a hyphen between "special" and "order" in "special order item."

A special order item is an order item that is special. Gustavo assumed that you were talking about a special item. A special-order item, by contrast, is an item that is special-ordered, or ordered specially. I recommend this:

  • If the stock status is yellow, it is a special-order item and may or may not be in stock.
Last edited by David, Moderator

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