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When writing an instruction about connecting to a computer using ssh, telnet, etc., I'm not sure what spacing to use in this familiar spoken phrase:

  • "Log in to host.com"
  • "Log into host.com"
  • "Login to host.com"

Maybe this is entirely subjective or the realm of industry jargon, but I couldn't think of anywhere else to ask. Any insight?

  • 6
    Using "ssh" or "telnet" as a verb isn't uncommon either. I hear plenty of "I can ssh into my workstation from my home computer." (Not that this addresses the "Log in or login?" question.) – res Nov 19 '10 at 20:53
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    notaverb.com/login. 'Nuff said. – Marthaª Nov 19 '10 at 21:56
  • Similarly, "Back up your data" vs "Backup your data". – Drew Sep 30 '18 at 3:46
94

I would write “Log in to host.com.”

I think that “login” is a noun (as in “login screen”). I would find the words “loginned” and “loginning” awkward.

As for “Log in to host.com” versus “Log into host.com,” I would use the former because I think that “log in” is a fixed phrase. Martha’s answer to another question is also related.

Added: The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) lists 65 occurrences of “log in to” and 58 occurrences of “log into,” both including inflected forms and excluding the Spoken section. (The queries used are [log].[v*] in to and [log].[v*] into.) Since “log in to” is also used in context like “log in to download it,” the actual number of occurrences of “log in to [host]” is slightly smaller than 65. In any case, it suggests that the phrase “log into” is also used commonly, although I am not sure how good it is to use COCA to compare technical terms.

  • 1
    +1 - I think the conjugation is particularly helpful to see why it should be two separate words: "log in" -> "logging in" -> "logged in" – DaveMongoose Mar 12 '18 at 11:45
  • You said "login" is a noun (correct) but your example ("login screen") shows it being used as an adjective. The single word can be either an adjective or noun, but your answer is inconsistent. – samalamma708 Nov 7 '18 at 22:13
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    "To log in" and "to log into" are Reflexive Separable Phrasal Verbs which often have the reflection omitted. They mean the same thing but have slightly different grammatical construction. "To log in" requires a prepositional phrase to describe what a person is logging into. "To log into" requires a direct object to describe what a person is logging into. I chose "to log into" in the preceding sentences so "what" could be a direct object without a preposition. This is a general pattern of English verb construction, so it's not about which form is correct but about using each form correctly. – Stuporman Apr 4 at 19:53
  • It would seem from your description of COCA's usages that they use "to log in" when their prepositional phrase is not about what is being logged into but about something else since "to log into" would require a direct object to be grammatically correct. The difference between "log in to host.com" and "log into host.com" is entirely lexical, so it really only matters if you're diagramming the sentence. Personally, I prefer to avoid prepositional phrases when possible, so I would write, "log into host.com." – Stuporman Apr 4 at 20:15
37

The verb is log in.

Log in to host.com

From the Wikipedia page for Login:

Spelling confusion

The verbs are two words: log in and log out, whereas the nouns are login and logout (often used like adjectives in compound nouns).

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    John, that's because "log in" is the phrasal verb with the intended meaning (See dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/log-in-on). "To" in this case is the preposition to connect with the word "host". – b.roth Nov 19 '10 at 19:34
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    In a sentence like Log in as "admin", you'd never write "*inas" as one word. Same thing with "in" and "to" when they just happen to end up next to each other in a sentence. – Marthaª Nov 19 '10 at 21:53
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    @Martha: That sounds like a logical explanation, but does not necessarily reflect the reality. It does not explain why some people never write “log inas Administrator” but still write “log into home.com.” I think that the difference is simple: “inas” is not used in any context, but the word “into” exists. – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 20 '10 at 12:02
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    @Tsuyoshi Ito, perhaps I wasn't completely clear, but my point is that using "into" in such a case is just as incorrect as using "inas" would be. The fact that people make mistakes doesn't change this. – Marthaª Nov 20 '10 at 16:26
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    @Martha: That sounds like a pretty prescriptive attitude towards the language. – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 20 '10 at 16:46
10
  • Yes, I agree: Use "log in to" as a verb. So use that for giving instructions.
  • "log into" is not terrible, but it doesn't sound as good because it sounds like you're actually going inside something. For example, "I walked into the store."
  • "login" is the noun and adjective form. So you would use that like this: "I programmed the login procedure." Or... "I don't like this app because the login process is very lengthy."

You can also think about each one with the way we stress the different syllables slightly when we're speaking:

  • "log in to host.com" sounds like "log + in + to host.com" (each word is pretty much evenly stressed)
  • "log into host.com" sounds like "log + INto host.com" (the stress is on "in")
  • "login to host.com" sounds like "LOGin + to host.com" (the stress is on "log")
  • 1
    I like the "log into" usage. The "going inside something" argument doesn't quite hold up: one can also say, "I walked into a pole, ouch!" – CSJ Dec 13 '14 at 16:19
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    I've always figured that you're going into the system. You're outside it until you log in / login. – mwardm Mar 30 '17 at 8:10
3

Ironic that the instruction at the bottom of this page is 'Sign up or login'.

I'm here because I'm torn between log in to and log into and looking for clarification. At this point in time, I suspect the prevailing opinion is correct - that log in to is preferable for purposes of clarity.

However, I don't doubt that we will soon treat the process of logging in as a figurative point of entry, meaning that log into will make full conceptual sense (cf you don't physically delve into a problem or pile into an argument, yet both are correct grammatically because they are semantically [i.e. figuratively]).

0

Given that so much of the web environment isn't being written by writers who care, I'm increasingly seeing 'login' used as a verb. And to be honest, once it's normalised it will be the correct form.

I'm a digital copywriter and have fought this battle on a few occasions. But I've decided to throw in my hand. 'Login to this site'. 'Enter your login details'. Fine, whatever. Is it clear? Absolutely. Only people like us care.

  • Yes, this will likely become formalised in time as a noun. As a web designer, I hate that "log in" creates a visual space between the words. If you line up "Log In Register" - is that three links or two? This creates a Gestalt problem, meaning you have to really fiddle with spacing to get the word groupings right, without using pipe characters. – Savage Mar 22 at 3:23

protected by tchrist Jun 12 '14 at 5:24

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