Updated in responding to some comments

When I say I was using my phone to 'read' twitters. Which verb should I use? Is 'reading' a good choice?

I was reading twitter this morning and saw a tweet from Bria. I replied her with the following picture.

Just to give the above as an example.

I am asking because in Chinese we use a different verb for this behaviour. We don't use 'reading' unless it is a really long one. In Chinese, most people would say "刷微博", where "微博" is kind of copy of Twitter. The direct translation of "刷" would be "brush". I believe it gets this meaning because the way we move fingers on the touch screen is like brushing the screen, although it also applies to reading on desktop or web.

  • 3
    Reading is fine, but you can also use on, as in, I was on Twitter this morning...
    – sme
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 3:00
  • 1
    You seem to really mean "reading tweets", not twitters: "I was reading tweets this morning."
    – Kris
    Commented Jan 25, 2019 at 7:14
  • There are perhaps hundreds of ways to indicate that you are consuming written information, and by the same token if you look up read in a dictionary, you can see that it is a rather flexible verb, and one can read not only tweets and books, but clocks, lips, faces, school subjects, palms, tea leaves, road conditions, sports opponents, and so forth.
    – choster
    Commented Jan 26, 2019 at 1:13
  • 1
    What are the terms in Chinese? This might help with translation.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 16:35
  • (And what are the literal English translation of those Chinese terms?)
    – Lawrence
    Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


Several verbs are applied to reading material on websites like Twitter.

Reading pertains generally to text or to the contents of something published. Among Merriam-Webster's many definitions of read is a sense that the medium of reading might vary: letters, symbols, printed words, books, and situations are all mentioned as entities that can be read.

Read is widely applied to multimodal formats like websites and social media posts. People who study literacy, rhetoric, and composition regularly apply the term reading to describe what we do with websites (example). Search results show the usage "read Twitter" is widespread. As a native user of English who uses multimodal texts in his teaching, I readily associate Twitter with reading.

Other verbs might also work to catch a specific aspect of reading, like perusing or scanning. If the behavior you're looking for is reading information online, then browsing would apply. Browsing Twitter would be the same as browsing any other website. It could suggest a more superficial, skimming form of reading (see def. 2), as happens with screen reading and clicking through hypertext. The verb is widely applied to looking through internet sites (see def. 3). It is related to a name for site-display programs like Chrome and Firefox: web browser.


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is promising users that a true dark mode is on the way — one that might actually help you save battery life and reduce eyestrain while browsing Twitter.

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