Skip to Content

A Grammar (and exercise?) Mistake You Need To Stop Making

Have you seen the “What’s YOUR excuse?” mom’s picture floating around the internet? If you haven’t don’t worry. This isn’t about that because I don’t care what you look like as long as you like what you look like.

But that inspired this little rant-ucational blog post about a grammar (and exercise?) mistake you need to stop making.

Workout versus work out.

While I may not be an expert in much right now except changing diapers, I was once an expert in both teaching and grammar and feel highly qualified to share my knowledge with the five of you who care enough to read this post today.

Before we get into the meat of this missive, let me refresh your memory on some simple little grammar terms you learned way back in the first grade.

Shall we?

  • Noun: a name, person, place, or thing. Or an idea.
  • Verb: action word
  • Adjective: describes a noun
  • Adverb: describes a verb or another adverb

Remember those pesky parts of speech? Well, they matter. They help people understand what words mean and how they should be used and understanding words and using them correctly are two very important things.

Did you hear that? Using words correctly MATTERS, PEOPLE. It just does. I don’t care who you are. It. Matters.

So, where does the super-fit, get-off-your-assets-and-get-6-pack-abs-like-me mom of three come into play?

Because people all over the internet are commenting on her picture and her post about how we all need to stop making excuses and get healthy and she’s not really going to apologize for thinking we’re all a bunch of fat slobs if we can’t rock a bikini like she can and they’re using the wrong words and it’s making my head explode.

“Workout” is a noun. It’s actually a compound noun formed of a verbal phrase, meaning a verb and an adverb have been joined together in holy word matrimony, but meh. That’s more than you really need to know.

What you need to know and understand is that “workout,” one word, is a NOUN.

“Work out” is a verb. There’s the verb right there. See it? Work. Work how? Out. “Work out” is a VERB. Technically it’s a verb phrase, but again, meh.

Why does this matter? Well, because I’m tired of seeing people say “Oh, you know? If you want to be healthy, you just make time to workout.”

To + a noun is not a thing, people. Unless you’re British and you say fun stuff like “I’m going to university!” where university comes out sounding like you-neh-VUH-si-teh and you believe in using articles sparingly.

Correct: “If you want to be healthy, make time to work out.”

To + a verb is called an infinitive. It’s a legitimate grammar thing. I would get into split infinitives but that’s another grammar thing for another time.

Here’s a way to help keep this straight.

You don’t add -ing to words all willy-nilly. I mean, you can, but doing so turns them into different parts of speech completely. (And into a part of speech that doesn’t actually exist for nouns, I might add.) Yes, there are weird and pesky things that happen in grammar when you add -ing to a verb and when you use an infinitive as a subject, but in the case of “workout versus work out” those pesky things aren’t happening.

You just wouldn’t add -ing to “workout.”

Workouting? No.

Working out. Yes.

Some examples of workout versus work out:

I just had a great workout. <—NOUN

Let’s get together and work out. <—VERB

Check out my new workout top. Isn’t it swell? <—NOUN

I’ll wear this new top when I go work out. <—VERB

I’m just over here paying attention to my workout. <—NOUN

I’m just over here working out. <—VERB

See? See the difference? SEE? They’re NOT THE SAME THING. Nouns and verbs aren’t the same thing! They serve different purposes within sentences! Use them correctly! They didn’t do anything wrong!! They were just here, minding their own business, and people came along and starting jacking with their usage.

Stop doing that right now, people. Mixing up your nouns and verbs doesn’t work in this case.

There is a case for verbifying nouns for effect and clarity, but “workout versus work out” falls well outside the scope of that example.

Maybe I should go work out and relieve some of this pent up frustration about workouts, hmm? (See what I did there?)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Rebecca Smith

Thursday 17th of October 2013

Love Love Love Love Love! I'm glad to know these things bother someone else.


Saturday 26th of October 2013

Oh, these things definitely bother me. Definitely.

Lauren Hale

Thursday 17th of October 2013

Is it possible to <3 you even more for this post? Because I totally do. Also, I am glad you wrote it today because I was bummed when I thought I might have to wait until tomorrow to read it.

You killed it.


Thursday 17th of October 2013

And I <3 you for reading it. And thanks :)


Thursday 17th of October 2013

Le Sigh.

Je t'adore, mon amie.


Thursday 17th of October 2013

I thought you would appreciate this.

Maternal Damnation

Thursday 17th of October 2013

You have made my inner Word Nerd squeal with delight.


Thursday 17th of October 2013

Word Nerds UNITE!

Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious?

Thursday 17th of October 2013

Guilty as charged. I'm terrible with grammar (and you will probably find mistakes in my comment alone). So, I'm just going to claim that it's because I'm science major, with a math minor and a grad degree in chemistry. So, that should earn me something, maybe? Because if you ask me to point out an adverb or an adjective, I will probably start twitching!


Thursday 17th of October 2013

Ha! I know not everyone cares about grammar, but I think people should care more than they do. Grammar matters! (I promise I do not troll the internet picking apart people's grammar. Promise.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.