Writing for Business - A Whatis.com Blog

Sep 16 2010   11:22AM GMT

Set up or setup?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
If you’re installing a wireless LAN, you should know how to ______ security properly.
a. set up
b. setup

Answer: a

The verb form is two words. As a noun or adjective it’s one. Once you set up your network properly, you should have a secure setup. And it shouldn’t take too long if you don’t run into too many setup glitches.

There are a lot of similar cases that people tend to get confused about. Here’s a list with a few more examples:

work out— I was too tired to work out very hard.

Noun: workout — I did my workout every day, even if it was a lame effort.

Adjective: workout — I need a new workout playlist to motivate me.


Verb: check out— You should always go over your order carefully before you check out.

Noun: checkout — I didn’t realize the manual was missing until I got to the checkout.

Adjective: checkout — I’ll be more careful in future so I can avoid getting glared at by the checkout attendant.


Verb: back up — I forgot to back up my data last night.

Noun: backup — I got yelled at for not creating a backup and losing my changes.

Adjective: backup — I hope I never forget to make a backup copy again.


Verb: make up — I’ll just make up some excuse about my grandmother dying to explain why my paper is late.

Noun: makeup — The makeup of my essay doesn’t follow the instructions.

Adjective: makeup — Darn! I forgot to write my makeup paper — and I’ve run out of grandmothers.


Verb: drop out — I had to drop out of school after that essay fiasco.

Noun: drop-out — Now I’m a drop-out.

Adjective: drop-out — I’m exploring options for drop-out reentry programs that I can manage along with my checkout attendant job.


Here are some resources for setting up a wireless LAN.

Now be safe out there, kids, get your work in on time, and look after your grandmothers.

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