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As a proper noun, and as something commonly referred to in everyday life, I've heard both "the internet," and "internet" when using it as a noun. Ex:

I went on the Internet

Vs.

I found my answer via Internet

Although the second of the two sounds more awkward when saying it out loud, is it still acceptable?

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2 Answers 2

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I would never use it without "the".

Note that your counter example may well not be one. It appears to be parallel to phrases like "by train" and "on foot", which don't use an article that would otherwise be needed.

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    Hmm... Looking for a counterexample? 1986, Network World: "The electronic mail net runs over Internet, an international network of networks operated by the Department of Defense." There are many other counterexamples I could bring up, so I think there's more to this.
    – Laurel
    May 15, 2017 at 18:22
  • There may be. That example, however, is from ancient history, before most people had even heard of (the) Internet, so it does not reliably tell us anything about the use of the word in current English.
    – Colin Fine
    May 15, 2017 at 20:02
  • Thank you! It's good to see it written out that 'Internet' without 'the' is something others wouldn't use. It's been a personal pet peeve of mine to see it come up as often as it does without the article (in situations that wouldn't eliminate the article like 'by' would). May 15, 2017 at 23:59
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The word internet (also internetwork) is simply a contraction of the phrase interconnected network. However, when written with a capital "I", the Internet refers to the worldwide set of interconnected networks. Hence, the Internet is an internet, but the reverse does not apply.

I was also searching for information about this topic and thought it would be helpful to share. It helps to understand why "the" is needed. It's important to differentiate from any other interconnected network. Therefore, the Internet is a specific kind of internet, the worldwide set of interconnected networks, that's why the definite article is needed.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalization_of_Internet

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