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You'll need a "login" if you want to "log in"

How many usernames and passwords do you have these days?

You've got email, bank accounts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Paypal, Amazon, Snapchat, Nextdoor, Ebay and probably at least two dozen other accounts that aren't listed here.

Remembering all the information we need to access our devices and accounts is nothing short of a challenge.

On top of that, we've got a spelling issue to contend with.

Last time on That's What They Say, we talked about when "into" should be written as one word and when it should be written as two. This week, we're tackling the same issue with "login" -- should it be one word or two?

Just like "into," it seems to be circumstantial.

We tend to use "login" as a noun to refer the credentials, e.g. username and password, needed to get into one of our various accounts. But if we're talking about the actual act of getting into the accounts, we switch to the verb form, "log in."

For example, "I need to update my login before I can log in to my computer."

What about when you leave your computer for the day? Do you log out or log off? Don't worry, there aren't any wrong answers with this one. Both are in circulation.

Early on, "log off" was a little more popular, but "log out" has picked up some momentum. These two are currently neck and neck.

Are there other techy terms that are complicating your life? Let us know at rkruth@umich.edu or acurzan@umich.edu.

Anne Curzan is the Geneva Smitherman Collegiate Professor of English and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.
Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.
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