When you want to check in with someone or to monitor the progress of something, you will always want to “follow up” on it. But, when first learning to write English, there may be a little bewilderment over how to write it as “follow up” or “followup.”
While both loosely refer to revisiting or returning or a previously-held event, they serve two different purposes within a sentence.
Difference between Follow Up; Follow-Up
First, it’s important to understand that “followup” is not the proper spelling. “Follow up” will always remain a two-word phrase. However, this can be a verb, noun, or adjective depending on where you want to use it in a sentence.
The main difference in “follow up” being an adjective or a noun versus a verb is with the use of a hyphen (-) between the words. No hyphen indicates an action (verb). But if the hyphen is present, it’s an event (noun) or it can describe a type of event (adjective). Consider the differences in the examples below:
He will follow up with his instructor about the assignment. (verb)
His instructor wants a follow-up email about the assignment. (adjective with a hyphen)
There needs to be a follow-up about his assignment. (noun with a hyphen)
Follow Up as a Verb
“Follow up,” when the words are separate, will always be a verb. When you use “follow up” as a verb, there’s a clear indication that there is an action to take. It’s another way of indicating a review or revisiting of something. This is often in the context of appointments, meetings, and other kinds of get-togethers.
They always follow up with their mother’s health condition.
We follow up each month to see how things are going.
I told her that she should follow up her studies with real-life experience.
Follow-Up as a Noun or Adjective
Remember, “followup” is an incorrect spelling of “follow-up,” which can be a noun or an adjective. Adjectives modify or describe a noun. Contemplate the following examples to understand the difference between follow-up as a noun or adjective:
The follow-up didn’t go well. (noun)
He wants a follow-up phone call. (adjective; describes phone call)
So, remembering the difference is easy. When you see the hyphen (-) between “follow” and “up,” it’s a noun or adjective. When it’s “follow up,” it works as a verb.