Setup vs Set Up? How Do You Use Each One Correctly?

Setup or Set Up

When do you use setup vs. set up?

It’s an easy mistake to make when you are writing in a hurry.

But there’s a simple way to remember how to use setup vs. set up correctly.

All you need to do is know that one is a noun and adjective, and the other is a verb.

How to use setup and set up correctly

Setup is a noun

It indicates the way in which something, especially an organization or equipment, is organized, planned, or arranged.

Set up is a verb

It says to place or to erect something in position.

However, there are differences between British and American English usage.

When is set-up hyphenated?

In US English, the word setup is usually a single word.

But in British English, you often see it hyphenated as set-up.

Both are correct for the noun and adjective forms of the word.

But it is more common to see the single word form used.


When do you use setup?

When is set up one word? If it’s a noun and it is easy to recognize.

There will always be an article before it, and it can take an adjective.

It can also use the quantifier, some, instead of an article.

You use either a setup or the setup to indicate that something is arranged, planned, or organized.

Here are some examples to show you how easy it is to get it right.

Under the current setup, two co-directors run the company.

What a setup he has for his new patio and barbeque.

The hotel changed the setup of the ballroom for the wedding.

He tried a new setup for his drum kit.

You can also use the noun to indicate a trick or scheme to deceive someone.

They wanted me out. The meeting was a setup to get rid of me.

The criminals fell for the setup the police had planned.

Although less common, you can use setup as an adjective.

The setup instructions were very confusing.

The computer program came with a whole host of setup tools.

He had some setup problems with his new phone, so he took it back to the store.

It’s worth noting that you could also use set-up and be perfectly correct in all these examples.


When do you use set up?

Set up is a verb, and in fact, a phrasal verb.

Because of this, both the root verb (set) and the particle (up) are necessary for meaning.

Also, phrasal verbs never take a hyphen, so you won’t confuse it with the noun.

As with most phrasal verbs, you can insert a pronoun between the root verb and particle. (Set it up.)

You can use it in any verb phrase form or tense construction.

You use it when you want to indicate that something is in place, to erect, or to assemble.

Here are some examples to show you.

set up a phone

After you buy a new phone, you need to set it up correctly.

The roadies set up the stage for the band in less than an hour.

They had set up the chairs for the wedding in the garden but had to change plans because it rained.

I’m going to set up a new bank account for my son.

My father retired last year but now says he might set up a new business.

Brian is setting up the new computer for his daughter.



It’s easy to make sure you don’t make a mistake with the words setup vs set up.

Is setup one word or two?

Simply remember that the verb is two words, and the noun or adjective is one word or hyphenated.

Other words related to this issue include to make up and makeup or to change over and changeover.

You can find a list of the most common phrasal verbs vs. nouns in this word set list prepared by Washington State University.

For most writers, a quick check with an online grammar checker should give you the correct form to use if you are in any doubt.


Related reading: Death Throes Or Death Throws – Here’s How To Get It Right

Scroll to Top