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Should You Use “Check In” or “Check-In”?

Not sure if you should use check in or check-in? You aren’t the only person who is confused by these tricky words!

Rather than being just a variation in spelling, the hyphen actually dictates whether these words are being used as a verb, noun, or adjective. While they appear to be similar, there are differences in definition and usage, and they should not be used interchangeably.

Lets take a further look!

“Check In” – Definitions and Examples

Without a hyphen, check in acts as a phrasal verb that describes the act of reporting or registering your arrival at a designated location. Additionally, it describes when you check on the status of someone or something.

For example: 

  • They had to check in at the airline counter to drop off their luggage and get their seat assignments for their flight.
  • Upon arriving at the hotel lobby, guests should check in with the receptionist to get their room keys.
  • The doctor checks in with all of her patients after a medical procedure to see if their recovery is going as planned.

“Check-In” – Definitions and Examples

Check-in functions as a noun that refers to an act or instance of checking or a location at which you check in. It also functions as an adjective that describes a place where you check in. Some examples below (parentheses denote whether check-in is being used as a noun or adjective): 

  • My husband had 4 check-ins to the gym this week and feels great about the progress he has made. (noun – refers to an act or instance of checking in)
  • Check-in and registration for all conference attendees is just past the door and to the left.  (noun – denotes a location)
  • Your check-in time for the New York City Marathon is 7:00 A.M. at the designated check-in area. (adjective – describes the nouns time and desk)
  • I hate going to the check-in counter at airports because there are always so many passengers in line! (adjective – describes the noun counter)

It’s also important to note that checkin is generally considered incorrect and should not be used as an alternate spelling for check-in. As a helpful reference, you’ll see that the Merriam-Webster dictionary does not recognize this spelling variation.

In summary, these words should not be used interchangeably. As you can see, a simple hyphen changes the parts of speech and definitions. 

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By Ryan Fisher

Ryan holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University and specializes in proofreading, editing, and content writing with an emphasis on business communication.

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