When should you write “log in” as two words, and when should you write it as “login”? Here’s a story to help you easily remember. In Part I, we focused on the two-word (verb) formation. In Part II, we focus on the one-word (noun/adjective) formation.
Log and In, a verb and preposition happily united as the phrasal verb couple Log In, had been contemplating growing their family into a more meaningful unit (see Part I). Nine months later, Log and In (also known as non-hyphenated Mr. and Mrs. Log In) gave birth to a squealing, happy, healthy baby girl. Since the baby was a true one-piece product of their love (and yes, they were a bit narcissistic), they decided to name her Login. “It’s a noun!” Log proclaimed, tossing cigars to his friends. They celebrated this beautiful and nominal, yet ever-so-substantial new existence, exclaiming, “Here’s the login!” and (perhaps creepily,) “Access your login here!” Yes, Login was the thing Log and In had been yearning for. This thing completed them.
But it was In who quickly realized that their precious Login had a very special talent: she could also easily act as an adjective, describing other nouns! As she got older, Login was quick to come to the aid of her other noun friends, forming friendships based on login help, login information, and login page. It was no surprise that at high school graduation, her friends voted her both “most likely to succeed” and “most confusing,” since she had such versatile abilities yet was so often misunderstood.
Login went on to have a very fulfilling life, both being a thing and describing things. She formed a special love/hate relationship with Logout, whose parents, Log and Out, were good friends of Log and In… But that’s a story for another time.
♥ ♥ The End ♥ ♥
Verb + preposition combinations such as “log in” are called two-word verbs (ingenious, eh?), or phrasal verbs. In a phrasal verb, the verb and preposition act as a married couple — they must both be present to retain their meaning. (In Part I, you can see that “log” alone has a different meaning than “log in.”)
Whenever you want to use a verb + preposition combination (phrasal verb) to express action, keep the words separate and don’t hyphenate — though they are like a married couple, we still need to recognize their individual identities.
Verb examples: Log in. Log in now. Log in here.
Sometimes we can squish the verb and preposition together to make a new word. In the story above, Log and In squished together to create their offspring, the lovely Login. This single, squished-together word acts as either a noun or (more commonly) an adjective.
Noun examples: Login (as a label). Here is the login. My login is not working.
Adjective examples: The login screen is ugly. How many login usernames and passwords do you have? A hacker stole my login information.
Note: Many times, the button that reads “login” is not technically incorrect, but I would argue that most of the time, “log in” is a better choice, as the goal is a call to action, as opposed to simply stating what it is. Wouldn’t you rather be saying to people, “Hey, log in here, now” and not just, “Hey, here’s the login”?
Now that you know when to use “log in” versus “login,” do you see all the websites that get this wrong? (I estimate that about half of all websites get it wrong, at least half of the time!)