Susan 馃悵 Rooks, blog
Wednesday Words & Woes: One word or two?

Wednesday Words & Woes: One word or two?

Brush Up on Your
American Grammar Skills

Grammar Goddess Communication
Look Smart. Sound Smart.

SusanR@GrammarGoddess. com

English is a weird language. I can't speak for any other one, but we often have words with the same letters in them, but sometimes the words are really two separate words and sometimes they're just one solid word.

As a basic rule of thumb, if you're using words like those shown below as a VERB (an action word or one that describes a state of being), it'll probably be two separate words.

If you're using the word as a NOUN (a word that names a person, place, thing, or idea), it'll probably be a single word.

Here are some of the common ones I keep seeing in blog posts, with the verb form written first.

to back up / a backup * to blow up / a blowup * to break down / a breakdown * to break out / a breakout * to break up / a breakup * to break through / a breakthrough *聽to check out / a checkout * to get away / a getaway * to hand off / a handoff * to hang out / a hangout * to log in/ a login * to look out / a lookout * to pay back / a payback * to run away / a runaway *聽to sleep over / a sleepover * to set up / a setup to show off / a showoff * to take off / a takeoff * to take out / a takeout * to try out / a tryout * to warm up / a warmup * to work out / a workout

I know there are others, but the general idea is that these letters are sometimes all crammed together to make a single word (usually when you're using them as a noun), and separated into two words (usually when you're using them as a verb).

I hope this helps, and if you're not sure about anything like this, find someone to look over your post(s).

Are there any others that come to mind? Help us all learn!


For more on these or any English word, go to聽, a terrific resource that shows words and their definitions in several dictionaries.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post.聽If it has helped you in any way, I hope you will...聽

Find it relevant or聽share聽it, so your connections can see it and perhaps learn too.聽

Comment聽so you can be seen by my connections. You never know who would be interested in YOU (just ask聽Deb Helfrich聽how well it works for her!).聽

Do the associates in your company聽look and sound as smart as they are?聽They would if they could take one of my聽Brush Up on Your Skills聽聽workshops right where they work. If your company hires outside experts to teach any topic to its associates, please share my posts and聽website聽with your Human Resources or Training Manager.聽

Are you a member of an association聽or other group that is looking for a speaker for one of its meetings?聽There are a lot of communication-based topics that I could talk about that would make for a lighthearted and interesting presentation.聽

Relevant Share Comment
Welcome to the conversation, @Avanthi Raj! And you're so right, Praveen Raj Gullepalli, you'd better be careful when she's around!

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #3

Your 'workout' example, Susan, got me thinking about 'pullups', 'pushups' and 'situps', although I've always tended to hyphenate these nouns. Now the thought of grammatical 'stuffups' has given me a 'hangover' even though I haven't been hanging over anything. 馃あ
I get the "squirrel" part so well, Praveen Raj Gullepalli knows that all too well . . . :-) You're lucky to have your wife knowing about this odd stuff, and I'm happy if I helped you in any way here.
, thanks so much for sharing my post here in all those hives! That's awesome!

More articles from Susan 馃悵 Rooks, The Grammar Goddess

View blog
2 years ago 路 2 min. reading time

The Internet is a wondrous place, especially for those of us who grew up long before it was even tho ...

3 years ago 路 2 min. reading time

I am certain every language has its own ways that might not make absolute sense in terms of spelling ...

3 years ago 路 1 min. reading time

I just got a new subscription to Time magazine, something I hadn't had in years. Thanks to a friend ...

Related professionals

You may be interested in these jobs

  • Organon & Co

    Web and Mobility Solution Architect

    Found in: Lensa US - 1 day ago

    Organon & Co Long Island City

    Job Description 路 Organon is a Women's Health Company that believes in a better and healthier every day for every woman We are a passionate, global community of thousands dedicated to redefining the future of women's health. 路 Our mission is to deliver impactful medicines and sol ...

  • KPMG

    Sr. Associate, Cyber Security

    Found in: US Premium - 6 days ago

    KPMG Salt Lake City

    Business Title: 路 Sr. Associate, Cyber Security-Cloud Security Engineer 路 Requisition Number: 8291- 91 路 Function: 路 Advisory 路 Area of Interest: 路 Cyber 路 State: 路 UT 路 City: 路 Salt Lake City 路 Description: 路 Known for being a great place to work and build a career, KPMG provide ...

  • SDI LaFarga


    Found in: Resume Library - 2 days ago

    SDI LaFarga New Haven, Indiana Permanent

    Overview: 路 Responsible for providing programming, user support, and training for SDI LaFarga systems. Maintains and modifies as required the software applications for system advancements. 路 Responsibilities: 路 Produce, modify, and debug computer programs to allow the production ...