About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

Read more ...

Blog Search


(Supports AND)

Google Ads

Feed

Subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog.

See this post for info on full versus truncated feeds.

Quote

All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.

John Stuart Mill



Navigation





<April 2020>
SMTWTFS
2930311234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293012
3456789

Categories

  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  

Contact Me

Email me

Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 4/3/2020

Totals
Posts - 2610
Comments - 2631
Hits - 2,237,740

Averages
Entries/day - 0.43
Comments/entry - 1.01
Hits/day - 365

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 1:05 PM Pacific


  09:12 AM

We were reviewing some drafts of new user interface stuff at work today, and Colleague Tom noted that the title of one of the dialog boxes was listed as Setup Publishing. Momentarily unsure, he sent me a message: "Is setup considered a verb?"

Lots of people think so — search for "to setup" on Google, and you'll see page after page of results where people are using setup as a verb. You can do a similar exercise with "to login" and likewise find many, many instances of login as a verb.

Perhaps unusually, this is an instance where I actually do think that single-word spellings like these for phrasal verbs (as some of us learned to call them) are not sensible. Rather than simply calling them wrong, tho, let me justify this view with two pieces of evidence.

1. In many (not all) verbs like to set up and to log in, the prepositional bit (up, in) can move around in the sentence. Consider:

He needs to set up the computer.
He needs to set the computer up.
*He needs to setup the computer.
He needs to set it up.
*He needs to setup it.

The spelling in the marked (closed-up) examples doesn't represent the syntactical flexibility that's shown in the others.

For login, consider these:

She needs to log herself in.
*She needs to login herself.

Second one doesn't work, eh?

2. When you conjugate or otherwise do grammar-ish things to the verb, you do that only to the verb bit; the preposition bit is left unmolested. Consider:

I was setting up the computer.
I was setting the computer up.
*I was setupping the computer. (Thanks to Tom for that excellent example.)

Or even just these:

She sets up the computer.
*She setups the computer.

He logs in at the library.
*He logins at the library.

People will occasionally decide that a hyphen is just the thing -- to log-in, to set-up. This seems to acknowledge that the constituent parts of phrasal verbs are distinct. But in American usage, anyway, this is really no improvement.

I won't go into the detail about the technical definitions of a what constitutes a word (because I don't know enough about it, frankly), but it seems clear from these examples that when set up and log in are used as phrasal verbs (along with other examples, like sign up, write out, check in, and turn off), they're most logically spelled as two words.

Any disagreement?

As an aside, it's a general trend. Searching for one-word variations of phrasal verbs, I found these:

to warmup
to workout
to passout
to turndown

To reiterate, tho, I think that these one-word spellings are not the way to go.

[categories]   ,

[4] |