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When should I use "in the Internet" and when "on the Internet"?

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I notice that spell checkers complain if you don't capitalize Internet. Didn't yours? –  mickeyf Dec 9 '10 at 14:52

5 Answers 5

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I would always use "on". At least if you are talking about the contents you can find on it. If you're talking about its hardware structure for instance, then, "in" can maybe fit in some cases, I guess.

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'On the internet' would refer to data/items/websites that one can find there. as Pierre said, the 'Internet' can also be seen as a web of hardware elements like routers and switches.

that switch is 'in the internet'

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"In the internet" to describe a switch is kind of awkward. "That switch is part of the internet" would be much better. –  Marcin Jun 19 '11 at 12:21

I suppose the large number of "in" prepositions in the phrase can be explained like this: in many languages, including Russian we use the preposition which can be translated into English as "in". So what people often do when they don't know what the correct way is - they "copy" exactly as it's told in their native language. I guess the number of native speakers who use the Internet is much smaller.

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If you're talking about information retrieved from the Internet, people routinely say "it is stored ON the Internet", "I found it ON the Internet", "information ON the Internet is ..." etc.

The only example I can think of where you would use "in" would be a phrase like, "I am interested in the Internet".

As noted in response to AmiroucheDouda's post, you might use "in" when "Internet" is used as an adjective to modify some other word. Like, "We live in the Internet age", "In an Internet-based system, access is ...", "Thinking in Internet terms ...", etc.

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As in this other thread I would use "in the internet" in the context of Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs. While an Average Joe user reads content off the "front" of an internet website (its Graphical User Interface, or GUI), a function call to an API actually sends a programming thread into the content of the website to retrieve the answer. That retrieval lends a sense of depth, of looking something up in a website, that reading content that's already displayed on the front just doesn't.

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Might be an interesting idea there, but it isn't expressed clearly enough for me to upvote it –  jwpat7 Sep 17 '12 at 18:37
    
And how about now? –  rsegal Sep 17 '12 at 18:43
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Better, but you might also add ref to FumbleFingers's comment to an answer to a related question. And say "As in another thread" vs "Like in this other thread"; ie, say as not like, and link to your answer (click share below an answer to see link) instead of question. Then I'll +1 –  jwpat7 Sep 17 '12 at 18:54

protected by tchrist Aug 13 at 14:41

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