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I know that words like login and payoff are properly nouns but I increasingly notice many (not at all uneducated) people use them as verbs:

Will you payoff your credit card this month?


Please check this when you login.

To me (a non-native English user), that seems incorrect because separating the core noun from a preposition is what I was taught: Please check this when you log in. (My emphasis)

Is this use proper or not?

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why anyone would downvote this is beyond me... – amphibient Dec 4 '12 at 21:56
up vote 13 down vote accepted

I agree with you. (I am a native English speaker.) It is more correct to say "log in" or "pay off" when using these words as verbs. However, usage will dictate whether these eventually become solid words, even when used as verbs. Until that time, however, it is better to not spell them solid when used as verbs.

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Rather than just saying "it is more correct" as though stipulated by God, it would be good to mention why careful writers make the distinction: in particular, there is a pronunciation (prosodic) difference between e.g. "log in" and "login". – Neil Coffey Dec 4 '12 at 17:33
@NeilCoffey: I think some people simply don’t make the distinction; same with everyday, anymore, anytime, &c. – Jon Purdy Dec 5 '12 at 5:15
@NeilCoffey, I agree with what Jon said but there is another problem with what you wrote -- English is not logical. Careful writers don't make that distinction because of possible pronunciation differences, but simply because the usage of these single words as verbs has not evolved enough yet to be considered single words in careful writing. It is more correct to use two words -- definitely not as stipulated by God, but also not as stipulated by logic or pronunciation, but rather as stipulated by usage (which contains components of both popular usage and traditional usage). – Ben Lee Dec 7 '12 at 19:29
@NeilCoffey Even on the "this is for a reason" front it's not about pronunciation -- it's about syntax as per Barrie's answer. But his counter-example of *"I'll login him now" is only a counter-example based on current usage. If that phrase had traction because single-word verbal "login" increased in usage, it would no longer be a counter-example. Also, going back to the "English is not logical front" it's very possible for irregularity here -- "login" as a verb used in some syntactical contexts, and "log in" in others, and bothto be correct. – Ben Lee Dec 7 '12 at 19:32
Ben - I think where I disagree slightly with some of what you say is that I suspect that the pronunciation difference does help (subconsciously) to drive the distinction. – Neil Coffey Dec 7 '12 at 19:58

Pay off and log in are phrasal verbs. The first is always transitive and, as such, allows the particle off to be moved. We can say ‘Will you pay off your credit card this month?’ but we can also say ‘Will you pay your credit card off this month?’

When log in is used intransitively, the particle in immediately follows the verb log, but, when it is used transitively, the particle can also move. We can say both ‘I’ll log in John now’ and ‘I’ll log John in now.’ However, when the direct object is a pronoun, it immediately follows the verb. We’d say ‘I’ll log him in now’, and not *’I’ll log in him now.’

These are compelling reasons for verbs such as these to be written as separate words.

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To add to what Barrie England has said, as long as the past of these phrases is logged in and paid off, it is unhelpful and confusing to regard them as single words.

If it happens that people start saying I loginned or they payoffed, then they will have become single words, at least for those speakers.

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I speak native UK English and have worked in IT for many years. I certainly see "login" and "logon" very, very frequently used as verbs in user guides, manuals, websites etc. In fact I'd say it's the standard usage. I'd regard "log in" as verging on the antiquated in IT.

If I saw "Will you payoff your credit card this month?" I would automatically assume the space had been missed accidentally.

eta : Look at the OED website which uses "Log in" and "login with" - interesting. In fact they have "Log In" as verb, then "Subscriber login" which could be either, then at the bottom two "Login with"s which may or may not be set by the OED itself.

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Oxford Dictionaries Online <english.oxforddictionaries.com/>; has Subscriber login, Library card login, Login with Shibboleth and Login with Athens, but all these can be read as nouns. The online edition of the OED <oed.com/>; has Sign in. – Barrie England Dec 4 '12 at 16:24
I'd disagree that "Login with Athens" can be read as a noun. CF "Userid with Athens". I respect your opinion and knowledge so I'd appreciate knowing your reasoning here. – Wudang Dec 4 '12 at 18:51
And I should have included the URL; please see oed.com/loginpage – Wudang Dec 4 '12 at 18:56
On the page you reference, login in Subscriber login, Library card login, Login with Shibboleth and Login with Athens can all be seen as nouns, because they refer to the Subscriber / Library card / Shibboleth / Athens login which you are required to enter. The first line, by contrast, has Log in as an imperative verb. I realise this is verging on the specious, but I still think it’s a fair defence. – Barrie England Dec 4 '12 at 19:43
I see what you're saying but it's the "with" that I have trouble with. I suppose if it said "Authentication (noun) with X" I'd accept that so I see your point. It may be that my experience of seeing "login" as a verb is blocking my parsing, like the famous "The old man the boats" sentence. Fair enough. – Wudang Dec 4 '12 at 19:50

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