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"Sign In" Versus "Sign Up" - What's the Difference?

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Mon, May 06, 2013 @ 09:43 AM

sign up English verb meaning and usePhrasal verbs can get so confusing!

Did anyone teach you these verbs when you studied English back in your home country?

Maybe you tried to memorize them in the dictionary. Did that work?

Luckily, we created this blog and Verb Dive iPhone App to help you with this specific challenge! Today we are asking the question: What's the difference between "sign in" and "sign up"?


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#1)  "To Sign In"

  • sign in guest list phrasal verbMeaning: You "sign in" when you first arrive at a place or an event. Your name is usually on a list and you ask the person who is in charge to check your name off of the list. You might sign in at a conference or when you enter your friend's college dorm.

  • Grammar tips: This phrasal verb is separable. That means that we can separate "sign" and "in" and we can say "Please sign me in when you arrive."

  • Examples: "In my college dorm, visitors had to sign in before they could enter the building."  or "If you don't sign in, no one will know that you are here."




#2) "To Sign Up"


sign up english expression, register to vote

  • Meaning: When we "sign up" for something, we register for an event. We confirm our plans to participate in the event. Sometimes we also pay money when we register or "sign up."

  • Grammar tips: With this verb, you can separate "sign" and "up" by saying, "John's mom signed him up for the marathon."

  • Examples: "Last week I signed up to help clean up the parks in my city." or " Why did you sign up for Advanced Biophysics if you don't like it."



Quiz time!

Choose the correct phrasal verb ("sign up" or "sign in") to complete the conversation


marathon runner, sign up for the raceBen: Are you going to ___1___ for the marathon in DC this summer?

Nelly: I don't know. It gets pretty hot in the summer in DC. How about you?

Ben: Yes, I am definitely going to do it. It's going to be a great challenge.

Nelly: Well I guess it depends on my schedule. I have to work the night before and I will have to catch a flight to DC after work. What time do you have to ___2___ at the registration desk?

Ben: I think you have to __3___ at 7am.

Nelly: Wow, that's early.

Ben: Why don't you just ___4___ so that you can reserve your spot and decide later?

Nelly: Good idea! I think I will do that.


Quiz Answers: 1-sign up, 2- sign in, 3- sign in, 4- sign up



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Topics: Phrasal Verbs

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