Grammar Pet Peeves: You logined?! I’m giveuping.

by Stewart C. Baker

A part of me understands language change, and that shifts in pronunciation, spelling, and even meaning are natural, and a necessary aspect of language use at all: if language were static, communication would be a lot harder over the long run.  That small but rational part of me is perfectly happy verbing nouns, nouning verbs, inverting the definition of “literally,” and generally agrees with the indomitable Stephen Fry.  I can even grin and bear it when somebody writes “alright” or “alot,” if I have to–seemingly secure in my trans-Atlantic upbringing and college-level linguistics courses.

But then someone sends me an e-mail: “Hello the computer will not let me login to the library webpage, what should I do?”main


(image source:

That pretense of cool disinterest disappears in a flash.  Never mind the comma.  Never mind the passive-aggressive blaming of the computer for something the patron has probably done wrong.  Never mind the maddening lack of clarity (how am I supposed to troubleshoot that?).  It’s that fourth word that gets me.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Login.  Argh!  Login is a noun!  You can no more login to a computer than you can dropoff a book, or pickup a friend, or any of a dozen other things.  If login were a verb, you would have to go around saying things like “I loginned to the computer” or “I was loginning to my e-mail when someone stopped me from murdering the English language” or “Look, that loginned computer has been opened to a website which pickups the thread of our conversation about putdowning the horrible abomination that we used to call English and speaking something sensible like Mandarin instead.”

Er…  Ahem.

In any case, here’s a quick trick to help you figure out whether you should use “login” or “log in,” which should also work for a number of other similarly structured verbs (pickup / pick up; signup / sign up; &c.).

If you are talking about an action, spell out each word separately: “I log in to my computer every morning.”

If you are talking about a thing (or describing a thing), join them together: “There is a login screen at the top of your website.” or “My login does not work.”

Or, if that method doesn’t work for you, just stick “ed” on the end of the word and see if it still makes sense.  You can’t say “logined” but you can say “logged in.”

Et voil à!  C’est facile, pourtant!


Bonus reading (for grammar!): and
Baker-Daily-Haiku-Author-PhotoStewart C Baker is an academic librarian, haikuist, and speculative fiction writer. His fiction and poetry has appeared in Cosmos Magazine Online, Penumbra, Acorn, Frogpond, and Modern Haiku, among other magazines. Stewart has lived in England, Japan, and various parts of the United States, and now lives in Oregon with his wife and two sons–although if anyone asks, he’ll say he’s from the Internet.
His website can be found at:

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