Check Up, Checkup or Check-Up – Which One to Use?

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

It’s far too easy to get the meanings of words mixed up when they look almost identical. Every time I see the words checkup, check up, and check-up, my brain spins. But I will lay out all the details here, define each version, and show you the right way to use each in a sentence.

Checkup or Check-up or Check Up? Meaning and Spelling Explained

Check Up Checkup or Check Up Which One to Use

Okay, they may all look like different spelling variations of the same word, and they are, in a sense. But their differences are in their classifications.

  • Checkup: When it’s a single word like this, it’s a noun to describe an appointment. “I have a checkup at the dentist later this month.”
  • Check-up: Add in the hyphen, and it becomes a phrasal adjective meant to describe the type of appointment or something. “My check-up appointment is at two o’clock, Thursday.” Here, it modifies the word appointment. With that being said, in British English, “check up” and “check-up” are both used interchangeably as the noun form. 
  • Check up: If used as two individual words, you’ve got yourself a verb to describe what you’re doing, aka a phrasal verb. “I’m going to check up on my dad later this week and ensure he’s okay.” Check up is the action here.
Check Up Checkup and Check Up Ngram
Check up, checkup and check-up usage trend.

In terms of usage and popularity, all three terms are neck and neck, with “check up” being the more common.

When to Use Each

  • Use “checkup” or “check-up” as a noun or adjective to describe a medical exam or an inspection of some kind, like for cars.
  • You use “check up” in the two-word form as a phrasal verb when you’re referring to the action of examining or inspecting something or someone.

What Is a Follow-up Checkup?

A follow-up checkup is basically a checkup that takes place after the initial checkup. “I had a regular checkup with my doctor, and now he’s scheduled me for a follow-up checkup.”

Checkup Examples in a Sentence

  • Anna scheduled her monthly checkup with her family doctor to make sure she was in good health after the cancer scare.
  • During the routine checkup, the mechanic found a small issue with my car’s brakes.
  • My dentist recommended scheduling a complete checkup every six months for my kids.
  • Our pediatrician examined my son during the checkup and determined he was growing at a faster rate than other kids his age.

Check-up Examples in a Sentence

  • My dad went for a regular check-up to keep his type-2 diabetes under control.
  • My doctor advised me to come back in three months for a follow-up check-up.
  • During his dental check-up, Corey discovered that he needed a cavity filled.
  • The tech guy performed a check-up on my work computer and found no problems with the hardware.

Check Up Examples in a Sentence

Check Up Checkup or Check Up Which One to Use 1
  • The friendly nurse called to check up on the patient after his successful surgery.
  • I really should check up on my elderly neighbor to make sure she’s doing okay.
  • As a teacher, I decided to check up on one struggling student’s progress throughout the semester.
  • We asked a friend of ours to check up on our guinea pigs while we were on vacation.

English Is Funny That Way

I know it can get a little confusing, but just stick with it and refer back to my guide whenever you’re unsure. A great way to remember the difference is to think of the two-word version as the verb/action. “Checkup” and “check-up” can be used more similarly for a medical examination. For more insight, have a look at our guides to the words “burn out” and “work out.”