'Log in to,' 'log into' or 'login to': an age-old debate! Our verdict?
The correct spelling is 'log in to.'
'Login to' is incorrect.
'Log into' is incorrect.
There is much controversy about this on the internet, and you will find a lot of conflicting information. If you have read a different answer elsewhere or disagree that this is the correct way, please read on to understand the grammatical concepts that led us to this answer.
Let's get the easy bit out of the way. 'Login' is a noun or adjective and cannot be used as a verb. Therefore you would never see 'login to.'
When used as a noun, 'login' refers to the confidential information you input into a computer, website, program, or database to gain access. It could be a name, a series of numbers, an email address, a password, or all the above. Here are a few examples:
Do you know your login?
The noun 'login' can also refer to the action of logging in. You might see on a page:
We have all the details of your last login.
Finally, 'login' could also be where you enter your details. For example:
Access login via the homepage.
'Login' can also act as an adjective.
Notice how in the examples above, the word 'login' complements the noun 'detail' and 'page in turn.
Language is an ever-evolving art that must constantly grow to keep up with the times. A dictionary is one of the best sources for up-to-date and official language information.
The only problem? Even the dictionaries don't agree! There are several reasons for that. First, a word's definition is not the be-all-end-all of a word's meaning. How we use a word in everyday contexts can heavily influence its meaning.
The other is that, like with anything, different dictionaries are of different qualities.
And last but not least, with modern words created to keep up with new ways of life, there isn't always a common consensus. For example, the term 'log' had its own meaning long before anyone ever needed to log in to anything.
Below, we will list some definitions from three reputable dictionaries and official recommendations from the Microsoft Manual of Style.
We consulted three of the most reliable sources to determine their recommended terminology.
The Oxford English Dictionary lists the following terminology for logging in:
It also lists 'log off' or 'log out' as verbs and 'log-out' as a noun.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary does not list 'log in' or 'login' at all. It only lists:
It also does not list 'log off,' but it does list 'log out.'
The Microsoft Manual of Style provides clear instructions on what to say and what not to say. Here is the relevant passage:
Use sign in to describe starting a session on a computer, a device, a network, an app, or anywhere a username and password are required. Use sign out to refer to ending a session.
Don't use log in, login, log into, log on, logon, log onto, log off, log out, logout, sign into, signin, signoff, sign off, or sign on unless these terms appear in the UI (and you're writing instructions).
The verb form is two words, sign in or sign out. Avoid using as a noun or adjective (sign-in, sign-out). Instead, use a more descriptive or precise term.
One thing we love to do here at WritingTips.org is to use plain old grammar rules when faced with predicaments like the current one. With that in mind, let's investigate this with a step-by-step approach.
The most common meaning of the verb 'log' is to record information. This word was often used in nautical contexts when sailors kept a record of their distance.
Don't forget to log how many miles you sailed today.
But the verb's usage is not restricted to nautical contexts. Here are a few more examples:
It has several other meanings, but none have to do with entering information to access a database.
We must therefore conclude that the verb 'to log' is not relevant here.
Since 'to log' does not carry any meaning relevant to the current context, which verb do we use when referring to the act of logging in?
That verb is 'log in.' Or, more accurately, it is a verbal phrase. That's right. The action that is being referred to is logging in, not logging.
The thing about verbal phrases, you cannot separate the words in the phrase. They all belong together. We think conjugating the verb helps get a clearer view of things. Let's see:
I log in
you log in
he/she/it logs in
we log in
you log in
they log in
I am logging in
you are logging in
he/she/it is logging in
we are logging in
you are logging in
they are logging in
I logged in
you logged in
he/she/it logged in
we logged in
you logged in
they logged in
It seems clear that since you can conjugate it, 'log in' is indeed a verb.
'Into' is a preposition that describes a transitional state. It indicates entry, inclusion, or collision with something. For example:
Sometimes it refers to a moment in time. For example:
I'm only two days into my holiday, and I already miss home.
There are other meanings for the word 'into,' which you are free to look up in the dictionary. But none of them apply to the act of logging in.
You might argue that when you log in, you are entering into a database or website, and you would be correct. However, then, you would be required to say that you are logging in into something. That's right. Because if you say you are logging into something, the verb is 'logging,' and your sentence would have an entirely different meaning. You would be describing the act of logging and how the logging goes into something.
Are you still with us?
Here are some examples to illustrate the meaning of 'log into':
Notice how, in the examples above, we had to insert an object between 'log' and 'into.' That is because 'log' and 'into' simply do not work as a single unit.
At WritingTips.org, we aim to empower you with knowledge of facts, especially in relation to confusing words. So although we have given you our official stance on the correct term to use (log in to), we hope that you feel able to decide for yourself.
Not only for 'log in to' or 'log into' or 'login to,' but for any other grammatical puzzles, we encourage you to use the tools available to you to deduce the correct information. And by tools, we mean accurate, official grammar rules of the English language.
Here's to empowered learning!