Today we have a guest post from TechRepublic Senior Editor Jody Gilbert.

For the record, I don’t scritch around in a tea-stained cardigan squinting over my co-workers’ shoulders with admonitions like, “Uh, Toni, misplaced comma!” or “Aw man, Bill, that’s a hideously deformed sentence frag!” I mean, how often am I even in the office?

And whenever I venture out on a rant like this one, I squeeze into an apologetic Kevlar vest of a disclaimer: Yeah, yeah, I KNOW language is fluid and needs room to change to accommodate new technology and cultural shifts. But sometimes, fluid is STOOPID. (Floopid: Neologism. See, I too am fluid.)

But this mindless compression of verbs and prepositions into some kind of superverb really needs to stop. So here comes the rant.

Verbs often have helper prepositions that follow them. For instance, “Clean up.” As in, “Clean up the server room before anyone sees this mess.” Sometimes, you don’t need those helpers. (That’s a separate issue.) But if you use them, they don’t need to be bevel-jointed to their verb.

It’s not, “Cleanup the server room.” If it were, you’d end up with conjugations like this:

  • Mattie is cleanupping the server room.
  • We already cleanupped the server room.

So you know, that’s just silly language squishing.

Here are some of the major offenders I see every day. Note that when you use them as nouns or modifiers instead of in verb form, eliminating the space is fine.

Shut down

  • No: Did you shutdown the workstation first?
  • Yes: Did you shut down the workstation first?
  • Yes: The shutdown procedure was interrupted.

Back up

  • No: Make sure you backup the registry.
  • Yes: Make sure you back up the registry.
  • Yes: Make sure you have a registry backup.

Set up

  • No: Before you setup your connection, check with IT.
  • Yes: Before you set up your connection, check with IT.
  • Yes: IT will handle your wireless setup.


  • No: Be sure to logoff after completing the online transaction.
  • Yes: Be sure to log off after completing the online transaction.
  • Yes: Explain the logoff process to the new guy.

Rant along with me

Does this kind of thing drive you mad? Or do you think it’s the depths of OCD depravity? Share your thoughts.