I received an email from Amazon:

Your Amazon.ca order has shipped: (#702-XXX...)

But from what I've learned, I think the correct sentence should be:

Your Amazon.ca order has been shipped: (#702-XXX..)

Can someone please explain why they don't use "been"?


  • I like your question and upVote it, because I got the same question as yours after I had ordered a CD from XXX. – kitty Jan 27 '15 at 17:07
  • Related on ELU: Your order has shipped. – J.R. Jan 27 '15 at 22:20

The American Heritage Dictionary has the following definitions for ship (intrans.):

  1. To go aboard a ship; embark.
  2. To be sent as a delivery: The books that we ordered shipped from warehouse yesterday.
  3. To travel by ship.

All of these definitions mean roughly the same thing, and when they are applied to packages, the meaning is clear: the item is traveling in a delivery shipment.

If this intransitive form did not exist, you would be correct to insist on the passive form "have been shipped". The transitive form requires some person to performing the act of shipping (but the intransitive form does not).

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According to my dictionary, the verb "ship" can be used without an object, for example "the new car model will ship next month". The phrase "your order will ship tomorrow" or "your order has shipped" is quite common. "To ship" would in this case mean "to leave our premises".

"Your Amazon order has been shipped" would be incorrect until it actually arrives (until the process of being shipped has finished). "To ship + verb" means "to transport an object" and "has been shipped" means that it was transported but isn't being transported anymore.

An order cannot ship itself. But an order can ship.

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  • which dictionary did you use here? :O – Man_From_India Jan 27 '15 at 16:39
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    Mac, Function-F12. It mentions three different nouns, four different verbs, and five phrases. Ships with every Mac. Seems to be the New Oxford American Dictionary. – gnasher729 Jan 27 '15 at 16:41
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    Looks like dictionaries can ship themselves as well :-) – gnasher729 Jan 27 '15 at 16:44
  • Mac means? Macmillan? – Man_From_India Jan 27 '15 at 16:46
  • Macintosh computer. (Now often known as an Apple computer. But it's the Mac/Macintosh model, not to be confused with old Apple IIs, Apple Lisa, etc.) – A.Beth Jan 27 '15 at 19:03

Note that people ship (themselves, implicitly) quite readily.

At the very least, your future Sailor will make a trip to MEPS for initial processing, then a second trip to MEPS for final processing on the day s/he ships out to basic training. -- Navy For Moms

And, yes, inanimate objects can "ship" meaning to begin their journey. Of course, being inanimate, they don't actually do anything. A person begins that order's journey; that order has had its journey begun; but we can say it began its journey. Similarly, it has been shipped, but we can say it shipped.

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