Log In vs. Login

Login, spelled as one word, is only a noun or an adjective. For example, the information you use to sign in to your email is your login (noun), and the page where you sign in is the login page (adjective). Log in is two words when it functions as a verb. For example, you log in with your login information.

Origins Of Use And Modern Interpretations

login vs log in vs log in

The origination of log in can be read as to log into. The word log has been used in a nautical sense for hundreds of years and is a shortened version of the logbook or ship’s journal that records the events, cargo, and coming and goings of people within the ship. The phrase has long been used as an action to log information in this manner.

Login and log-in are different spellings of the same meaning. They are derived from a more modern, technological age that refers to using a password and username while logging into a computer or system. Neither use made its way into writing until the late 1970s, corresponding to widespread growth and familiarization with the technologies. 

Log In Definition and Use

Log in is a phrasal verb that defines the action of logging into something. This is an old phrase that dates back to ship’s logbooks and has easily carried forward into modern times to mean the same action: to record information or document your activities. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the more modern definition is to establish communication and initiate interaction with a computer or system. In each instance, a log, or list of your communication, is being recorded and stored, similar to using the original logbooks on a ship. 

Plural and Tense Use

As with most two-word phrasal verbs, the -s for plural usage, and -ed or -ing for tense stays with the first word. 

Examples include: 

  • He logs in on the company website to record his hours for his paycheck. 
  • She logged in to the computer to finish her essay for school. 
  • Logging in early to work helped him avoid distractions. 

Login and Log-In Definition and Use

Login and log-in are two forms of the same word and use. And unlike the phrase log in, login serves as either a noun or adjective and refers to the actual information used for digital access interaction with an account or system. This describes a code, username, password, or combination of information you used to initialize data. 

The hyphenated form is not as well used and will most likely drop off even further, even though some publications hold its use as a standard. 

Examples include:

  • Her login information was hard to remember, so she kept it in a pocket in her purse.
  • His login provided him access to the Internet bank accounts to check the balances. 
  • The log-in code for his email was easy to remember since it was similar to his dog’s birthday. 
  • To enter the log-in, she had to first boot up the system and turn on the display. 

To see other one-word phrase equivalents that function as nouns and adjectives, see check up and checkup, pay back and payback, and run away and runaway. You might also be interested in log on vs. log in.

What’s the Difference Between Login, Log in, and Log-in? Using Them in a Sentence.

Log in (verb)

Users log in and are presented with a selection of plays, concerts and other events for that night only. [Wall Street Journal]

Login (noun and adjective]

Most online fraud prevention solutions focus on two transactional activities. The first is the login to a storefront or website [Forbes]

The firm sent out a “large number” of emails this morning requiring members to change their login details. [Telegraph]

Hyphenated

These editions come with faster processors and separate log-in accounts so multiple children can share the same device. [New York Times]

[P]references in the Modern layout were automatically saved and transferred to multiple machines with a single log-in. [Denver Post]

Let’s Review

If you had been wondering if log in was one word or two, hopefully this explains it more clearly. Log in is an action you take to record or enter information. Login is a noun or adjective to describe the information or data you are entering into something. Log-in is simply login with a hyphen.

15 thoughts on “Log In vs. Login”

  1. Your work is wonderful and incredibly useful, but I am troubled by the second sentence of this entry: “the act of signing into your email is login (noun).” Wouldn’t the “act of” signify a verb? I believe the distinction you were aiming to make is that “login” as a noun is the field of entry or the information used in order to log in to your email account. No?

    Reply
    • Perhaps we should change that sentence. “Login” has at least a couple of definitions, correct? It refers to the information you use to log in to something, as you point out, but it also refers to an instance of logging in—e.g., my last login to my email was five minutes ago. But this second sense is probably less common, so we should probably use the first sense in our example—maybe this: “For example, the information you use to sign in to your email is your login (noun), and the page where you sign in is the login page (adjective).”

      Also, thanks for alerting us to the fact that we had used “signing into” where we should have used “signing in to.”

      Reply
        • imho, ‘the act’ is a noun, as the is an article found only before nouns…
          Plus, I suppose “the act of …” doesn’t mean the same as “the verb expressing the act of …”

          Reply
      • I appreciate the info provided here, as I’ve wondered about which form to use in which situation. As someone who works for an organisation that develops authentication software, it sounds a little strange to me to say “the information you use to sign into your email is your login (noun).” Personally, I would use “login credentials” or something similar, but I’m not saying the use of “login” as a noun is incorrect.

        Reply
  2. Great article, but: I don’t think ‘login’ in ‘login page’ is an adjective. It is a noun. And ‘login page’ is a noun cluster or NP cluster (some people even call them noun composites). One could claim that it is an adjective in these simple noun + noun phrases (and some dictionaries for general public do this to keep things simple), but once you look at more complicated cases, this view breaks down.

    Yes, ‘login’ is in a position commonly occupied by an adjective (preceding a noun), but that’s the only commonality. Compare “syntactic error” and “syntax error”. Both “syntactic” and “syntax” are attributes of “error” but “syntactic” is an adjective, “syntax” is a regular noun. “login page” is like “syntax error”.

    The noun can sometimes be in plural: ‘my logins page’ (page where I keep all my logins). If ‘login’ were an adjective, what would ‘logins’ be? English adjectives do not form plural.

    The nouns can be repeated (login page – 2 nouns, login page translation – 3 nouns, login page translation error – 4 nouns). If one claimed that “login” is an adjective in “login page”, one would have to claim that “login page” is an adjectival phrase in “login page translation” but a noun phrase in “This is my login page”.

    It does not have to be a bare noun that works as an attribute of another noun, it can be a whole noun phrase (but without a determiner):

    “International Global Navigation Satellite Systems Service” – the structure is “International [Global Navigation Satellite Systems] Service” the noun “Service” is modified by the adjective “International” and by the noun phrase “Global Navigation Satellite Systems” (note that Systems is in plural) .

    Some of these clusters can be quite complex:

    “United States Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services” Administration”. The structure is “[ [United States] [Department of Health and Human Services] ] [ [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services] Administration]”. One should probably avoid these in a well written text or a speech, but neverthless they are part of English and they are used by English speakers.

    In short, in English, nouns can modify nouns, and “login” in “login page” is one of them.

    Reply
    • But words can be both nouns and adjectives. An adjective is a word that modifies a noun by describing it, limiting it, or qualifying or quantifying it. In “login page,” “login” tells us what kind of page we’re talking about–i.e., it describes, or qualifies, “page”–so it is certainly an adjective.

      Reply
  3. Grammarist, I hope you’re still around because I want to know what you make of this — on a Web site where a new customer is to “register” and they are frequently asked to either “LOGIN or REGISTER” I believe that for consistency it should be “LOG IN or REGISTER” so that they are both imperatives. Good vibes?

    Reply
  4. You shouldn’t even have to ask. If you think “login to the web site” looks okay then you lack a firm grasp of the English language. If you really need rules to figure out what should be common sense then think of it this way: is the past tense “I loginned to the web site”? No, I LOGGED IN because “log” and “in” are obviously two separate words.

    Reply
  5. I would argue that “sign into your email” is wrong. Shouldn’t your second sentence say “sign in to your email”?

    Reply

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