“Pick up” is a fairly common word that has a couple of uses in English. It would help to know more about it to make sure you understand whether it’s one or two words. It could also be hyphenated in some cases, and this article will explain all about that.
Pickup vs. Pick up vs. Pick-up
“Pickup” is a compound adjective that works well when modifying a noun in a sentence. “Pick up” is a phrasal verb. You can keep the two words separated when they are used to show an action. “Pick-up” is another compound adjective, but it’s much less common to see.
According to Google Ngram Viewer, “pick up” is the most popular choice of the three. This shows that the phrasal verb is a common way to use it. “Pickup” is the most common adjective choice, showing that the hyphenated form is dying out.
If you refer to The Cambridge Dictionary and The Oxford Dictionary, you’ll find entries for both “pick up” and “pickup.” While The Cambridge Dictionary briefly mentions “pick-up” as an alternative, it’s not a particularly common form. The one and two-word options are the best.
Is “Pickup” One Word?
“Pickup” is the most common adjective form for when “pick” and “up” modify the same noun in a sentence. It’s a compound adjective that follows AP Stylebook rules to show that the two words connect to modify the same noun.
Usually, connections are made between common words with hyphens. However, in the case of “pickup,” the hyphen was dropped in favor of simplicity.
Here are a few examples to show you how the adjective form works:
- I need you to sort out the pickup truck before Friday. Can you do that for me?
- I thought she was going to be the pickup girl for this one? I didn’t plan anything else.
- His pickup lines have been subpar lately. I’m a little disappointed in him.
- They mentioned that the pickup point had changed location. I think we should find out where it is now.
- There are a few pickup parties already on route. We don’t have to worry about getting them ourselves.
Is “Pick up” Two Words?
“Pick up” is two words when it’s used as a phrasal verb. You can use it to show that something is increasing in speed or performance. It’s also used when referring to answering a phone, as it shows the physical action of “picking up” a receiver.
You can use the phrasal verb as two words like so:
- The truck picked up a lot of speed as it continued forward. It was quite worrying.
- I thought business was picking up for you? Was I wrong about that? I’m so sorry.
- I didn’t need you to pick up the phone. I was only calling you to find out if you were around.
- Pick up! Pick up! I need to talk to you! Please, just answer your phone.
- I thought she was going to pick up his slack. They’re just as lazy as each other; it would seem.
Is “Pick-up” Hyphenated?
“Pick-up” is hyphenated when it’s used as an adjective, though it’s not commonly used in this way. You can hyphenate two words when they modify the same noun. AP Style rules allow you to hyphenate “pick-up” if another noun comes after it (like “truck”).
“Pick-up” has become such a common word that most people drop the hyphen entirely in favor of the one-word option. “Pickup” is a little more popular than “pick-up” today.
Here’s how you might use the hyphenated form correctly:
- I didn’t like that pick-up line at all. You’ll have to try a bit harder than that if you want to win me over.
- I thought you had a better pick-up game than that. I guess you’re not worth my time after all!
- The pick-up lines that they come out with are a joke. I really don’t fancy listening to more of them.
- I have a new pick-up truck, and I’m really excited to get out there and drive it.
- Where is the pick-up point again? I need to know before I go and pick any of my girls up.
Is “Up” Capitalized In The Word “Pick-Up”?
You won’t often find “pick-up” used in many cases, but it is still correct. When it comes to capitalizing the hyphenated form, you only need to capitalize the first word (pick). You would only capitalize “up” alongside it if you include it in a title.
Some title styles allow you to capitalize every word. This would also allow you to treat the hyphenated form as two separate words rather than one.
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Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.