Signing In

Sign in (073/365)
Creative Commons License photo credit: Chris-Håvard Berge

Some esoteric grammar talk coming up. Run and hide.

I haven’t seen this addressed anywhere else, but maybe I haven’t looked hard enough.

Do you “sign into” the web site, or “sign in to” the web site? It’s used both ways all over the place, but in my opinion, only one way makes sense.

“Sign in” is a phrasal verb

“Sign in” (like “look up,” in the sense of “consult a dictionary”) is a phrasal verb. In other words, both “Sign” and “In” are necessary to complete the verb.

In other words again, “I sign in to see my account” is different from “I sign in ink.” The action in the former is “Sign In” and in the latter, “Sign.”

Getting into the web site is a matter of signing in. Not signing. So you keep both “sign” and “in” just as they are, without changing the “in” to an “into.” Am I making sense?

How about this conversation:

A: Where are you going?

B: I’m going into this bar.

Now this:

A. Where are you signing?

B. I’m signing into this web site.

And finally:

A. Where are you signing in?

B. I’m signing in to this web site.

The first and the last make sense. The middle one doesn’t.

By the way, this is why both words should be capitalized in a headline, even if prepositions are otherwise not:

“Robert Signs In to His Account” vs. “Robert Learns Semaphore and Signs into the Sky”.

See:

Dictionary of English Phrasal Verbs

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2 Responses to “Signing In”

  1. fil
    June 17, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    Is it really Sign In? What about login?

  2. admin - Rob
    June 17, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Well, “login” or “signin” (that is, one word, rather than two) is a totally different story.

    Time will tell whether they shape up to be noun/adjectives or or verbs, but currently I use them as nouns and adjectives.

    So: “This is your login information. Use it to log in.”

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