The sentence contains a punctuation error and a potential clarity issue. Here’s a corrected version:
“Someone promised to buy it tomorrow; if they don’t, I will let you know.”
Here’s the breakdown:
- The “if” should be in lowercase after the semicolon since it’s continuing the same sentence.
- It’s preferable to use “don’t” (do not) instead of “won’t” (will not) because the promise is in the present context – “Someone promised to buy it tomorrow.” If they break that promise, it’s in the context of them not doing what they currently said they would do.
Is semicolon or comma correct in that sentence?
In the sentence you provided, the semicolon is used to link two closely related independent clauses without using a conjunction. The two clauses are:
- “Someone promised to buy it tomorrow.”
- “If they don’t, I will let you know.”
Given that these are both independent clauses, using a semicolon is technically correct. However, the combination of an independent statement and a conditional clause often feels more natural with a period or a conjunction:
“Someone promised to buy it tomorrow. If they don’t, I will let you know.”
“Someone promised to buy it tomorrow, and if they don’t, I will let you know.”
If you want to use the semicolon for stylistic reasons, it’s acceptable, but the other options might read more smoothly to most readers.
So what are the occasions semicolon should be used?
Semicolons serve a few specific purposes in English writing. Here are the primary occasions when you’d use a semicolon:
- To Connect Closely Related Independent Clauses: This is perhaps the most common use of the semicolon. If you have two independent clauses (meaning each could stand alone as a sentence) that are closely related in meaning, you can use a semicolon to connect them without a conjunction.Example: “The sun is setting; we should head home.”
- To Separate Items in a List with Internal Punctuation: If the items in a list contain commas, using semicolons can prevent confusion by clarifying where each item begins and ends.Example: “I’ve visited Paris, France; Tokyo, Japan; and Cairo, Egypt.”
- To Connect Independent Clauses Linked with a Transitional Phrase or Conjunctive Adverb: These include terms like “however,” “therefore,” “namely,” “that is,” “for example,” etc.Example: “I don’t like ice cream; however, I do enjoy gelato.”
- To Emphasize a Close Relationship between Clauses: Sometimes, even if a period or conjunction would be grammatically correct, a writer might use a semicolon to emphasize the close relationship between two ideas.Example: “Some people write with a word processor; others prefer pen and paper.”
It’s important to note that misuse of semicolons is a common error in writing. Many writers either avoid them altogether or use them in places where a comma or period would be more appropriate. When in doubt, it’s often a good idea to stick with simpler punctuation or to break the sentence into separate statements.
So, this sentence is ok? Someone promised to buy it tomorrow; if they don’t, I will let you know.
Yes, the sentence “Someone promised to buy it tomorrow; if they don’t, I will let you know.” is grammatically correct.
You’re using the semicolon to connect two closely related independent clauses. The second clause “if they don’t, I will let you know” could stand on its own as a sentence, but you’re connecting it to the first to show their close relationship and to present them as a unified thought.
So while there are multiple ways to structure these thoughts (using a period, conjunction, etc.), the way you’ve chosen with the semicolon is perfectly valid.
And, I used “someone”, and “they” – is it ok?
Yes, using “someone” with the pronoun “they” as you did in the sentence “Someone promised to buy it tomorrow; if they don’t, I will let you know.” is grammatically and stylistically acceptable in contemporary English.
In recent years, the use of “they” as a singular gender-neutral pronoun has become widely accepted, especially when referring to a non-specific individual or when the gender of the person is unknown or irrelevant. In your sentence, since “someone” does not specify a gender, “they” is a suitable pronoun to use.
This usage aligns with guidelines from many style guides and dictionaries, including the Associated Press and the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Is this question correct? “is this sentence and punctuation correct? => Someone promised to buy it tomorrow; If they won’t I will let you know.”
The question you’re asking about is mostly clear in its intent, but it could be formatted and worded more neatly. Here’s a more polished version:
“Is the punctuation and sentence structure correct in the following sentence? ‘Someone promised to buy it tomorrow; If they won’t I will let you know.'”
Here’s what I adjusted:
- Moved “punctuation” before “sentence” for a smoother flow.
- Specified “in the following sentence” to make the context clear.
- Placed the sentence you’re asking about in single quotes for clarity.
However, it’s worth noting that for utmost clarity, the actual sentence in question (“Someone promised to buy it tomorrow; If they won’t I will let you know.”) should be corrected first. As discussed in our earlier conversation, the right phrasing would be: “Someone promised to buy it tomorrow; if they don’t, I will let you know.”