Checkup or Check Up – What’s the Difference?

When you visit a doctor for a routine medical examination, are you there for a checkup or check up?

As far as the doctor is concerned, it probably doesn’t matter. You will receive the same medical care regardless of your spelling.

As a writer, though, it is your job to know the difference between checkup and check up. There is even another related term, check-up, that you should also know.

These terms are related, but they are all different parts of speech, and good writers know when to use each one.

What is the Difference Between Checkup and Check Up?

In this post, I will compare checkup vs. check up. I will include multiple example sentences for each term, so you will be able to see them in context.

Then, I will demonstrate how to use a mnemonic device that will help you remember whether check up or checkup is correct.

When to Use Checkup

checkup versus check upWhat does checkup mean? A checkup is a secondary appointment. This word is a noun. People go to their doctors for a medical checkup or to a financial advisor for a retirement planning checkup.

Here are a few more examples,

  • “Before you leave, we should schedule you for a checkup in about six months,” said the receptionist.
  • I sent my boss an email letting him know that I would be in at noon today, after my checkup.
  • Fortunately, there is a short financial checkup that effectively predicts what I think of as the key components of financial health–including short-term and long-term savings, management of financial products and financial literacy. –The Wall Street Journal

The plural form of checkup is checkups. The adjective form of this word is check-up. An appointment used for the purpose of checking up would be called a check-up appointment.

When to Use Check Up

Definition of check up definition of checkup definitionWhat does check up? Check up is a verb phrase. It means to review or monitor progress, usually to ensure that something is still going as planned or to watch for warning signs.

A doctor might check up on her patients during her daily rounds to ensure that their health is improving as expected or a girlfriend might check up on her boyfriend to ensure that he is not flirting with other girls.

Here are few more examples:

  • Some parents like to visit school to check up on their children and make sure they are safe and happy.
  • Ellie scrolled through the text messages on Henry’s phone to make sure he wasn’t still talking to his ex-girlfriend, Julia.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define check up and define checkupNow, let’s go over a trick to remember check up vs. checkup.

  • As a single word, checkup is a noun.
  • As two words, check up is a verb.
  • When hyphenated words, check-up is an adjective.

While these three spellings are quite similar, they cannot be freely exchanged. Checkup is always a noun, check up is always a verb phrase, and check-up is always an adjective.

Since the words check and up are a verb and a preposition, respectively, as long as you can remember the meanings of these individual words, you should be able to remember that the phrase check up is a verb phrase.


Is it checkup or check up? Despite their similar spellings, these words are all used as different parts of speech.

  • A checkup is an event where reviewing or monitoring takes place.
  • To check up is to review or monitor something
  • The hyphenated adjective check-up describes such an event.