I will repeat the important part for clarity: "signout" is not a verb. It's simply not.
This site is dedicated to educating people about the common misuses of words
"signout." It is meant for both non-native speakers who may not know any better, and for
native speakers who should know better but don't. It is in no way
a substitute for a real education. Poor grammar is an excellent way to
make any presentation sound stupid --or program look sloppy-- so if you
intend to use this language much then it behooves you to learn it properly.
It is possible to conjugate verbs. They can change tense and mood. They can
change number and person. You will see how even basic conjugation fails for
Here are some examples with the verb "conjugate." If you doubt that
"conjugate" is a verb (or need to look up what it means), definitions from
agree. Note that, as with many verbs, noun forms exist. Here we're using
the verb form.
Conjgate is a regular verb, so the present tense is simple. Consider the past tense:
The past tense is easy to form with a weak verb like "conjugate." This is normal behavior for a verb. English has more complicated verbs, like irregular and strong verbs, but those are generally the oldest verbs in the language. New verbs are regular and weak.
As a new verb,
"signout" should follow the regular, weak model that "conjugate"
exemplifies. Unfortunately, it does not:
Notice the problem with the third person singular. However, let's choose to ignore this problem for now. After all, we can't let one little conjugation problem make thousands of programmers and technical writers look like fools. Plowing right ahead, we'll look at the past tense:
Unfortunately, not a single one of those sounds right. It seems that
"signout" can't change tense or conjugate like a normal verb.
A Strong Verb?
Many older verbs are strong verbs, meaning they change tense by modifying
an internal vowel or diphthong. As you will see, it doesn't behave like
a strong verb, either. Compare the above behavior to the strong verb "sing:"
|I sing||I sang|
|I run||I ran|
|I meet||I met|
A Separate Verb?
Some grammarians will call this a "phrasal" or "two-part" verb, but this is
mostly because some grammarians are seeking tenure at their university posts
and must publish anything they can to get or keep that coveted teaching spot.
Similar motivation has created definitions for "compound verbs" and "stretched
verbs" --all different kinds of verbs, supposedly. Essentially, though, a
two-part verb must have two parts and signout only has one. The following
list of signout's component parts demonstrates this fact.
|1st||I||sign out||we||sign out|
|2nd||you||sign out||you [all]||sign out|
|3rd||he/she/it||signs out||they||sign out|
The past tense is also predictable:
|1st||I||signed out||we||signed out|
|2nd||you||signed out||you [all]||signed out|
|3rd||he/she/it||signed out||they||signed out|
|Owned||I have a book.|
|Modified||I have a secret book.|
I own the book, then make it a secret book. Truly, that is grand. Now I will do the same for "signout."
|Owned||I have a signout.|
|Modified||I have a secret signout.|
"Signout," it seems, works as a noun.
"signout" is not a verb. It's simply not. If it is any part of speech
at all, it is a noun. While we did not explore every possible part of
speech, we saw with certainty that
"signout" is not a verb. It's simply not.
If you take only one thing away from this page, take that one fact:
"signout" is not a verb. Educate others. Correct manuals, software, and web pages as
you find them. Tell everyone you know that
"signout" is not a verb. You
will make a pedant (me) happy. You will earn the respect of grammar nazis.
Most importantly, you will know the truth.
Magnanimousness demands that I offer solutions, or correct forms of some of
the common abuses of
"signout" Here are some suggestions, assuming you prefer
"signout" as a word rather than take a more conservative approach and insist the
proper form is
"sign out" or "sign-out."
|Can you signout?||Can you sign out?|
|I tried to signout . . . .||I tried to sign out . . . .|
|Enter your name at the signout prompt.||(This is acceptable)|
|Please signout again.||Please sign out again.|
You can also continue your education by learning about other words that are not verbs.
For entertainment you can read a sarcastic rebuttal to the argument that signout really is a verb and the language simply has evolved.
Thanks to Mark Pettit for the corrections to the "checkout" page.
Thanks to Nathanial Jones for the observation of phrasal verbs.
Thanks to someone whose email I deleted before I could record his name for his suggestion to add a note on prepositions.
Thanks to John Goodman for the correction on "carryout" in the index.