surf the Internet or surf on the Internet

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mcmay

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi, my dear friends! Recently, in my students' papers I kept coming across the two phrases "surf the Internet" or "surf on the Internet". I can't judge which is more idiomatic. I searched the two terms on the Net and found people say that both are acceptable but have slightly different meaning. They say that "surf the Internet" means "to go purposely from site to site or to browse" while "surf on the Internet" means "to browse or move from site to site randomly". Again it's beyond my knowledge to make any judgement.
Aslo, I searched these terms on this website and read threads about them. One of the threads which is most pertaining only shows a discussion that deviates from the thread title. So, to make this problem clear, I ask for your help, my friends. Do both terms exist in daily English speaking? Do they have different meaning as concluded by people on the Net?
Thank you!
 
  • mcmay

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    To sdgraham: As I mentioned in my thread, I did search the terms on this site and found the same existing threads as you kindly provided but I haven't so far found anything enlightening enough to straighten this matter out. Thank you for your direction! I hope more people here will continue to discuss this topic and give help. Thank you in advance.
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    They say that "surf the Internet" means "to go purposely from site to site or to browse" while "surf on the Internet" means "to browse or move from site to site randomly".
    At least for American usage (I can't speak for British), "they" are wrong. We say "surf the internet" (we no longer capitalize "internet") in both cases.
     

    Miss Julie

    Senior Member
    English-U.S.
    At least for American usage (I can't speak for British), "they" are wrong. We say "surf the internet" (we no longer capitalize "internet") in both cases.
    I work for a medical organization that publishes two journals, and our style is to capitalize (World Wide) Web and Internet, so I guess that's why I do it here. :eek:
     

    mcmay

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you, Miss Julie, for your further explanation.
    << Response to deleted comments removed. >>
    Thank you, again. I hope I can continue to receive your kind help in my prospective inquiries about English.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    mcmay

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you, Parla, for your updating information on "surf the internet". To tell the truth, until very recently, I was still judging the "internet" in their work as a wrong spelling.
     

    mcmay

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you, Biffo, for your introduction of the British way of expressing the term. In my impression, in my country, that is China, it is the American version of English that we encounter mostly both inside and outside the classroom because the teaching materials and the foreign teachers are mostly from the U.S., though there are some from the U.K. and australia, too. Students know very little about British English, let alone the difference between the two versions.
     
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