The Government Shutdown, or the Government Shut Down?


As I’ve been perusing the news, blogs, and social networks discussing various aspects of the government crisis in which we are currently mired, I have noticed that many people use “shutdown” and “shut down” interchangeably (or use one variation exclusively—to their detriment). I thought I would elucidate readers.

“Shutdown” is generally a noun.

  • “The government shutdown affects us in many ways.”
  • “The factory resumed operations after a brief shutdown.”

The American Heritage Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster Dictionary agree. Only Collins (does anyone use that?) differs.

“Shut down” is a verb.

  • “The government has shut down because Congress could not reach an agreement on the budget.”
  • “Shut down your computer before disassembling it.”
  • “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”
  • “The federal agencies are almost all shut down.”

The federal government may have shut down, but our use of proper grammar must not.