My wife and I are interested in learning to weld, and as part of our research, we checked out a site that advertised welding lessons. The site has a good example of how not to use separable verbs, so I wrote him about it. I spent enough time on the email that it’s worth including here. The subject line was “We might order your materials… .” Here’s what I wrote:
…and thank you for the free sample. My wife and I plan to read it carefully.
When you first setup your MIG machine you’ll have to feed this wire through the rollers.…As far as setup goes, that’s about all there is to setting up a MIG welder, and that’s why they’re so great for beginners.
- If it’s a verb, it’s two words, so you’d write “to set up a MIG welder…” (in your sentence: When you first set up your…”) (If you can imagine going up to the front of the room and doing it, it’s a verb.)
- If it’s a noun, it’s one word, so you’d write “when you’re done, your setup should look tidy.” (If you can put “the” in front of it, it’s a noun.)
- If it’s an adjective, you hyphenate it, so you might have a tidy set-up situation. (Adjectives generally go right in front of nouns.)
Should it be “set up” or “setup”?