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One word, two word, which one will do? Login, setup, and other puzzlers

January 15, 2020 — Joe Brockmeier

When editing technical writing about things like Linux, you'll start to notice a pattern of errors. One that I've noticed over and over again is the use of "login" and "setup" as verbs rather than the correct forms "log in" and "set up." Of course these are not usually flagged by grammar or spell checkers because they're valid words, just not in this context. Here's how to know when to use which.

If you're describing a thing (using as a noun), like saying "my login is user1" then it's one word. You can log in to your setup with a login and password. But if you're going to set something up, then it's two words. But if's "hey, look at my nifty setup," then it's one word.

A good test to see which is which would be to see if it works to insert a word in the middle. For example, "can you log me in?" Or "I need to set my blog up" then it's two words. But if you're describing a thing then you wouldn't slam a word in the middle.

Tags: fedora, grammar, tech-writing, editing.

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