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“Login” Is Not A Verb

I’ve got news for web site and software developers out there: “Login” is not a verb. Here are some other compound words that are not verbs:

  • pickup
  • sitdown
  • walkout
  • backup
  • standin
  • setup
  • bailout
  • moveover
  • throwup
  • checkout
  • et cetera

To be sure, many compound words, including some of those above, have perfectly legitimate uses as nouns or adjectives, but you can’t just tack a preposition onto a verb and treat the result as a verb.

Correct: “I’m going to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home.

Not correct: “I’m going to pickup a gallon of milk on the way home.

Correct: “Would you stand in for Joan?

Not correct: “Would you standin for Joan?”

Some people will tell you that “login” is an intransitive verb (a verb that has no object). I believe that “login” is not a verb, intransitive or otherwise, because it fails the conjugation test. Conjugation was probably touched upon, albeit briefly, during your first twelve years of education. If you studied any foreign languages (for me, that would be something other than English) then you probably learned to conjugate in another language as well.

Conjugation is safe to do at home and I encourage you all to try a little experimental conjugation whenever the urge to use “login” as a verb strikes. Let’s start with a real intransitive verb: “die” — die, dying, died.

  • “John will die.”
  • “John is dying.”
  • “John died.”

Sounds right, yes? Now let’s try it with “login” — login, loginning, loginned.

  • “John will login.”
  • “John is loginning.”
  • “John loginned.”

If “login” were a real verb, it would not sound silly to say: “John is loginning.” You don’t need to be an English major to know that John is logging in, not loginning. The verb is “log” and “in” is just a preposition.

Which is not to say that “login” (though I prefer the hyphenated version) doesn’t have valid uses: ”Frank forgot his login (log-in) password.” “Login” makes a fine adjective, but it is not a verb.

So all you web developers out there, please don’t tell me that I must “login” to your site. I’ll log in, thank you. And change all those “Login” buttons on forms to “Log In” buttons, OK?

Oh, and please don’t make me go through all this again explaining that “logout” is not a verb.

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