Follow up vs. Follow-up vs. Followup – Which is Correct?

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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.

What should be between the words follow and up? Is follow up hyphenated? To follow up means to take further action, while a follow-up is the act of following up. The two have the same meaning but are different parts of speech.

Keep reading to learn the answer to one of the most common questions regarding when to use follow up or follow-up!

If you are referring to the verb, use the unhyphenated verb phrase follow up. If you are referring to the noun or adjective, hyphenate the two words to produce follow-up. You can also write it as one word in informal contexts.

When to Use Follow Up

Use the unhyphenated follow up as a verb that means to check or pursue a solution. You might ask the police to follow up on leads. Or you might ask a co-worker to follow up on her task or a server to follow up on your food. 

Is It Right to Say, ‘Follow up With’?

Yes, this is one of the more common writing issues. Following up with something is different from following up on something. Follow up with means to do something other than what one has already done. Doing so will ensure that one will achieve their aim–for example:

  • Follow up the phone call with an email.
  • The doctor suggested that I must follow up my medicines with at least two glasses of water.
  • She followed up her job application with an impressive project proposal.

Follow up (with) is a transitive verb. In the first example, follow up has a direct object: phone call. The second example has medicines as the direct object, and the direct object in the third one is job application.

Follow up (on) is an intransitive verb that means to take appropriate action. This version has no direct object. Check out these examples:

  • I hope you can follow up on the next chapter soon. 
  • They couldn’t follow up on complaints.

The objects in these sentences are objects of the preposition on rather than a direct object of follow up. 

How Do You Say ‘Follow up’ in an Email?

If you’re following up on an email you sent someone, use the verb phrase follow up without the hyphen. Otherwise, use the hyphenated word to refer to the noun or adjective. 

Here are some sample sentences of how to use follow in emails.

  • I’m emailing to follow up on a message I sent last week. 
  • I want to follow up to learn about your ideas on [topic].

If you’re still confused on whether to use follow-up or follow up, ditch them and try these instead:

  • I’m just checking in to see if…
  • I’d love to start working on [project]…
  • Have you had the chance to [action]?

How Do You Use Follow Up in a Sentence?

You can’t possibly follow up a hit that big but it did reignite interest in my back catalogue. (The Guardian)

If possible, meet them in person and be honest while doing business. When you have a solid relationship with the client, it becomes easier to follow up with them and clear invoices. (BBN Times)

The government said it had collected 25.7 million samples in 2.4 million test tubes on Monday, and almost 80% of the total had been tested by Tuesday morning. Any positive results are followed up at the individual level. (Business World Online)

When to Use Follow-Up

Follow-up is the noun version of follow up, which refers to a continuation or review. You can also use it as an adjective to describe an event. 

Here are some examples of follow-up as a noun:

  • The victim is still waiting for a follow-up on the court hearing.
  • I was wondering if there’s a follow-up regarding my order. 

Below are examples of follow-up as an adjective.

  • Her assistant has already scheduled a follow-up meeting on Monday.

Follow-up in the sentence above modifies the noun meeting. 

  • You shouldn’t have done that follow-up post.
  • I did not receive any follow-up email from the associate. 

Is follow-up hyphenated all the time? No, there are instances where you will see it spelled as one single-word followup. This word may refer to a noun or adjective, but it’s not accepted in formal English.

Some publications still use followup despite being a misspelling.

The TGI Fridays restaurant passed its inspection on March 23 with a score of 82 and did not require a followup, according to the records. (Star Telegram)

The cracks are starting to show in J.K. Rowling’s much-hyped followup series to ‘Harry Potter,’ a franchise that is at the mercy of slapdash planning (Indie Wire)

How Do You Use Follow-up in a Sentence?

Bennett holds follow-up call with Putin after the Moscow meeting. (The Times of Israel)

The patients with prolapse recurrence on postoperative follow-up diagnosed by PFUS were selected as case group, the clinical and PFUS parameters of them were compared with the control group in which the patients had no sign of prolapse recurrence. (BMC Women’s Health)

“At one year of follow-up, the repair procedure appears to be safe and significantly reduced the severity of patients’ tricuspid regurgitation and improved their ability to function in daily life, maintaining gains that we previously saw at 30 days of follow-up,” said Adam B. Greenbaum, MD…” (Science Daily)

  • Be sure to send a follow-up letter to the correspondent.
  • They want you to come in for a follow-up interview.
  • I have a follow-up comment to my previous inquiry. 
  • I booked a follow-up appointment with the doctor for a follow-up test.

Trick to Remember the Difference

When it comes to hyphenation rules, two or more words that modify a noun are called hyphenated adjectives. Therefore, always use follow-up as a noun or adjective as you would do with second-to-the-last, one-bedroom, and three-foot-long.

But when you’re using it in a verb form, always separate follow and up. It’s the same as take away, go down, and put up with. 

Follow Up on Your Grammar Skills and Style Rules

Honing your writing and grammar skills means understanding rules and that the definition of a word changes when you add a hyphen. Is follow up hyphenated? Only if you’re using it as a noun or an adjective. Otherwise, follow up should be two words when it functions as a verb. If you have more questions, just let us know.

Remember these key points:

  • Follow-up is a noun or adjective.
  • Follow up is a phrasal verb.
  • Followup is incorrect.