“On the Internet” in English – “on the Internet” or “in the Internet”?

Prepositions in English cause a lot of trouble for students because their usage is quite often different from English. Fortunately, the word “Internet” is a pleasant surprise – the preposition is the same as in English, e.g.

  • I didn’t find the article on the Internet. (correct)
  • I didn’t find the article in the Internet. (incorrect)

Another common problem is the use of the article. We always use “Internet” in the sense of a global network with a definite article:

  • I love the Internet! (correct)
  • I love the Internet! (incorrect)

We omit the article only when we use “Internet” in the sense of an Internet connection (i.e. in the sense that we use it in English, for example, in the message “my Internet crashed”):

  • Do you have Internet? (correct)
  • Do you have the Internet? (incorrect)

A question with “the” would be asking whether the person owns the entire Internet, which doesn’t make much sense. Note, however, that a more natural and accurate phrase than “Internet” in this context is “Internet connection” or “Internet access”.

The final question is whether to write “Internet” with a capital I. Here, fortunately, it is impossible to make a mistake. The word “Internet” originally referred to the name of the computer network in question, so it was traditionally written with a capital I (which is by far the most common designation today). Today, however, many people understand “Internet” as a generic service (like a water supply) and write it with a lower-case i, and this convention has been adopted by many publishers, so it cannot be considered a mistake. Therefore:

  • You can surf the Internet. (correct, more traditional)
  • You can also surf the internet. (correct, less common)