MG Mason

Wrong Word Wednesday #70


Every week I demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the word intended. Usually, this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence and sometimes it sounds amusing, other times it sounds embarrassing. Unfortunately, the mistake is so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television.
Putting the finishing touches to Dead Heat the other day, I came across a word that made me pause for thought. There are three ways to write:

Make up / Make-up / Makeup

That I had to stop and ask myself whether I had chosen the correct one. They are three different things and all for the difference between a hyphen, a space or no separator.

Makeup is a noun – I had the correct one here. “Kate had her makeup applied this morning.”

Make-up is an adjective – A word describing an attribute of a noun. “The make-up artist applied Kate’s makeup this morning.”

Make up is a verb – “The make-up artist applied Kate’s makeup this morning. The company paid for the basics, but Kate will have to make up the cost of the extras she wanted.”