The difference between “hand over” and “handover”

The difference is that “hand over” is a verb and “handover” is a noun. To be precise, “hand over” is a phrasal verb and “handover” is a compound noun.

So we say: He handed over the money on Saturday.
And: The handover took place on Saturday.

There are many of these in English, and they are particularly popular in business writing. Here are a few more:

Verb Noun
break out
buy out
follow up
pay back
print out
sell down
sell off
spin off
start up
take away
take off
take over
turn over
breakout
buyout
follow-up
payback
printout
selldown / sell-down
sell-off
spin-off
startup / start-up
takeaway
takeoff / take-off
takeover
turnover

Note that some compound nouns are written as one word, and some have a hyphen (and some may be written both ways). Phrasal verbs are always two (or more) words.

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5 Responses to The difference between “hand over” and “handover”

  1. Christian Oppong says:

    Very helpful. Gracias!!!

  2. Hans Teijgeler says:

    I would have expected to see also the adjective form. Something like “the hand-over procedure”

    • Thanks Hans. As an adjective, I think “hand-over” and “handover” are both acceptable. However, if the hyphen is not necessary in the compound noun I would tend to avoid using it in the adjective.

  3. Olle Bridal says:

    But in “handover procedure”, “handover” is hardly an adjective. Isn’t “handover procedure” itself a compound noun? Just like “football player” where “football” isn’t an adjective either.

    In the phrase “the procedure is complex”, it is clear that “complex” is an adjective. But the phrase “the procedure is handover” doesn’t make any sense because “handover” is not an adjective, neither in “the procedure is handover” nor in “handover procedure”.

    • In phrases like “handover procedure” and “football player” the words “handover” and “football” are attributive nouns. See the post in this blog entitled “The difference between Shareholders’ meeting and Shareholders meeting”.

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