Checkout versus Check Out

When should you use checkout and check out? Imagine this scenario. You are shopping at a store and you turn to your companions and say, “I’m going to check out at the checkout.”

checkout versus check out

It’s easy to gloss over the fact that you have just used two different forms of checkout/check out in speech, but we don’t have that luxury in writing. Checkout, as a compound word, and check out, as a two-word phrase, actually have distinct meanings and occupy different parts of speech.

  • Checkout is used as a noun meaning the last place to go before departing a store, library, or hotel, or as an adjective to describe such a place.
  • Check out is used as a verb to mean the act of paying for items at a store or completing a transaction at a business, or as a slang term for leaving, or to mean to process of examining and appraising something.

Let’s check out checkout and check out.

When to Use Checkout in a Sentence

Checkout meaning: When used as a noun, checkout means the counter or desk where one finalizes their business before departing from a store, hotel, library, or other type of business, or the time when this activity takes place.

When used as an adjective, checkout describes or modifies a noun associated with these same activities.

Example: “Two nights, plus $21.09 for taxes, should come to $259.57 by our estimates, but Expedia’s checkout put us at $280.66.” [noun] Source: USA Today.

Example: “The Smiths must have left early. I didn’t see them at checkout.” [noun]

Example: “His job included stocking shelves with the cereal, which will hit real shelves on Sept. 17, and working the checkout aisle as surprised shoppers and local media recorded him.” [adjective] Source: USA Today.

Example: “I’m not going to get these books. The line at the checkout desk is too long.” [adjective]

Checkout is the last place you go before leaving specific businesses or the time that this takes place. It can also serve to describe a spot where this activity takes place.

When to Use Check Out in a Sentence

Check out meaning: As a two-word verb phrase, check out has three different commonly used definitions.

Its most common meanings are,

  • to finalize a purchase
  • to leave or depart, either literally or figuratively
  • to inspect something in order to offer an appraisal.

Let’s look at a few examples of these in real-life sentences.

Example: “I’m going to check out then I’ll call you back.” [verb]

Example: “The lecture was so boring that half the students checked out and played games on their phones.” [verb]

Example: “Texans rookie defensive lineman Charles Omehihu injured his left knee, but returned in the second half after getting it checked out.” [verb] Source: Houston Chronicle.

Example: “12 Pop, Rock, and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in NYC This Weekend.” [verb] Source: New York Times.

If you have ever been to a hotel, you have probably checked out of your room and returned your keys to the front desk upon leaving.

Checkout or Check Out – Keeping Them Straight

If you want to use check out as a verb, you will need the two-word phrase. If your sentence is in need of a verb, you will need the two-word phrase check out. Why is it two words? We need both words to get across the definition we want, and in some cases, the verb tense will need to change to reflect action that took place in the past or in the present.

Here’s a tip to know if you are using the right checkout/check out. Try changing the tense to make the action happen in the past and see if your sentence still makes sense. If it doesn’t, you probably need to use the noun or adjective form of checkout.

My brother is at the checkout/check out.

My brother is at the checked out. (changing it to past tense phrase makes the sentence sound weird and wrong).

My brother is at the checkout. (correct)

After Friday, he will checkout/check out until Monday.

After Friday, he checked out until Monday. (changing it to past tense and the sentence still makes sense.)

After Friday, he will check out until Monday. (correct)

Test Your Knowledge

It’s your turn! Let’s see if you can determine which checkout/check out to use in these sentences.

  • Baker took her purchases to the _______________ counter.
  • We need to pack our bags and _______________ of the hotel.
  • My son wants to buy a used car, so we are going to _______________ the used car lot.
  • We asked for a later ______________ time.
  • I found what I am looking for, so I am going to the ________________.

Recap: When to Use Checkout or Check Out

Checkout and check out are not the same thing. One is used either as a noun or an adjective, and the other is used as a verb. To recap:

  • Checkout is a noun to mean the place where you conclude your transactions, like a hotel’s checkout.
  • Check out is the action of finalizing your business, like checking out a book at the library or checking out of a hotel.

List Answers

  • Checkout
  • Check out
  • Check out
  • Checkout
  • Checkout