December 6 2011

Nouns and verbs and spellings…oh my!

by Barbie in Grammar, Spelling

When words can be used as both nouns and verbs, many writers assume the words are spelled the same way no matter the part of speech. While that reasoning would simplify things, that is often not the case. Many words use one spelling in noun form and another in verb form. Here are a few examples:

Checkout/Check out

  • I am waiting in line to check out. (verb, two words)
  • The checkout is at the front of the store. (noun, one word)

Follow-up/Follow up

  • I have to see the doctor next week for a follow-up. (noun, hyphenated)
  • I will call tomorrow to follow up on my job application. (verb, two words)

Kickoff/kick off

  • Kickoff is set for noon. (noun, one word)
  • This event kicks off the annual fundraiser. (verb, two words)

Unfortunately, there is no hard and fast rule. Usually, nouns are one word and verbs are two. But, there are always exceptions, such as follow-up as a noun. If you aren’t sure, check the dictionary for the part of speech you’re using. Don’t assume that the spelling is the same for the noun form and verb form … because it often is not!