Writing for Business

Nov 30 2009   6:05PM GMT

Backup vs. back up

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
If you don’t _______ your data effectively, you risk losing it.
a. backup
b. back up

Answer: b

Back up is correct when it serves as a verb; backup is a noun.

By the way, the same rule holds for other words that are sometimes separate and sometimes used as a compound: When you WORK OUT you listen to your WORKOUT playlist. (Yes, I am yelling — that one drives me crazy.)

Grace Fleming covers Confusing Compounds for About.com.

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