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Malapropism Monday, Week 8 — Phrasal Verbs and Compound Nouns

In before the buzzer! Or before the clock strikes midnight and my carriage turns back into a pumpkin? Whatever. It’s still Monday here for a few more minutes so I’m going to make a post!

I’ve been super busy lately getting ready for our Japan trip, bidding for freelance work, and taking care of the family and day job as usual. In fact, I may put these weekly entries on hold for a while, and I haven’t had time to make more substantive entries, either.

Today I have a super-quick note on distinguishing phrasal verbs from compound nouns. As with all my Malapropism Monday posts, this is a topic that bothers me and I see confusion about it all the time. Blogging is cheaper than therapy!

What am I talking about? Well, for example, you may have seen a sentence like, “I love to work out.” Work out is a phrasal verb — a verb and an adverb that are used as one unit to express a unique meaning. Now, if you ever follow fitness websites or message boards, you’ll eventually see someone write, “I love to workout.” No, no, no! Workout is a compound noun, not a verb at all. I like to work out when I find a good workout. Get it?

A couple more examples off the top of my head:

Log in vs. login — this entry for “login” has an interesting discussion about this phenomenon regarding computing terms.

Set up vs. setup — same deal as log in vs. login.

I quickly found this page which lists several more examples and offers an explanation that with the phrasal verbs, the stress is on the second word, while in the compound noun versions, the stress is on the first part of the word. It makes sense to me — how about you?