im Internet vs. über das Internet

Csabus

New Member
Hungarian- Hungary
I learnt that after "two-way" prepositions (like auf, in, über etc.) Dativ must be used if there is no movement involved, but Akkusativ if we want to express movement.

When it comes to surfing / selling / buying etc. on or via the Internet, I found that usually either
1. "im Internet" (Dativ)
or
2. "über das Internet" (Akkusativ) is used.
(Deshalb wollen wir Ihnen hier Tipps geben, wie Sie einfach und sicher Waren im Internet kaufen und verkaufen können. / Sie können heute fast alles über das Internet kaufen, selbst Tiere gehören dazu.)

I understand the first version, but not the second, as there is no actual movement when someone is buying or selling online.

Do these two expressions have different meanings or is there any other logical explanation why "über das" and not "über dem" is used in this case?

Thank you.
 
  • Kajjo

    Senior Member
    The rule of thumb with movement or location is not 100% perfect to really easily imagine and understand all example. But you are right, it is über das Internet, even if most people say "im Internet" rather than "über das Internet".

    I guess, the procedure of purchasing is felt as some sort of movement in this case: You go into the internet to order the product. Compare phrases with accusative like:

    Wir sind von Hamburg über Hannover nach Kassel gefahren.
    Wir sind über die Dörfer gefahren.
    Der Rechner muss über Nacht eingeschaltet bleiben.
    Wir wollen über das Wochenende wandern gehen.
     

    ger4

    Senior Member
    German
    When it comes to surfing / selling / buying etc. on or via the Internet, I found that usually either
    1. "im Internet" (Dativ)
    or
    2. "über das Internet" (Akkusativ) is used.
    It is interesting that übers Internet is hardly ever used in contexts like "surfing" or "reading something online": "im Internet surfen", "etwas im Internet lesen" sound quite natural (despite the fact that we receive the data we read via the internet, using über would sound unnatural).

    On the other hand, when it comes to buying or selling, übers Internet seems to be preferred to im Internet.
    I guess, the procedure of purchasing is felt as some sort of movement in this case
     

    basso doble

    New Member
    English - US
    I believe the motion rule does apply here when better understood. Motion or action that traverses or penetrates the boundaries of an area takes the accusative in dual case prepositions, as stated above. However, motion or action within the confines of an area takes the dative. Er geht in den Kreis hinein. But: Er geht in einem Kreis herum. Im Internet implies that something takes place on (within the confines of) the internet. Über das Internet indicates that something takes place through or by means of the internet. This latter usage is therefore similar to the motion examples of über above using using the accusative, indicating traversing or passing through an area.
     

    basso doble

    New Member
    English - US
    I suppose that über dem Internet would sound as if the Internet were something material and you were surfing or flying above it.
    That would be my take on such an expression too. Since the internet is a virtual space, you might only be able to say something like that if, for example, you envisioned yourself floating over the internet in a dream?

    At any rate, if we see the internet as a virtual space, some things may be accomplished while in that space, such as browsing or reading, as if in a virtual reading room. Other things are accomplished by means of (through / over/ using) the internet, such as making a purchase. See Holger2014's remarks above and note Handel über das Internet under the main entry for Internet. In US English, although we usually say ON the internet, whether reading or buying, one could say over / through, etc. for the latter, but not the former.

    You should also check out various examples and collocations under the WR entry for über in which the case is evident (mostly via the use of articles), though I was a bit disappointed to see no other direct indication of case in simpler entries, or just the use of etw(as), that avoids the question.
     
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