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I want to say "without downloading it via the internet" to make clear why a proposed offline alternative is less risky: it does not involve sending secret information (specifically, an encryption key) over an external network.

Related question: Via the Internet - is it correct?

Both on and via have senses for by means of; the Internet is the tool or method you are using to sell.

Therefore I think that via is correct here as well, but to me it sounds uncommon at best.

However, the alternative mentioned in this answer, on, seems to be actually incorrect for my case: "downloading it on the internet" seems like it describes what a person is doing on the internet, but what I want to say rather focuses on the method: via or through or over the internet. (It is also not about a person but about something the system does internally.) At this point, I've overthought the options so much that everything sounds weird to me, but I would guess that over is the least unwieldy-sounding.

Is over indeed the best way to say this? Are via and through also both correct, and neither so weird that you would suggest to change it while proofreading?

2 Answers 2

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If you think of the internet as a warehouse, it makes sense to use "from". e.g.

"without downloading it from the internet"

If you think of the internet as a marketplace or bulletin board or TV, you may choose to use "on". e.g.

"videos on the internet"

"selling on the internet" etc.

If you are providing a service using the internet, it is better to use "over". e.g.

"providing service over the internet"

If it is a two-way process, "via" can be used. e.g.

"telelearning via the Internet"

Of course "internet" is a new thing, any preposition can be used as long as it makes sense to the other person.

There were other questions asked on SE as to what prepositions to be used with internet.

Via the Internet - is it correct?

Over the Internet or On the Internet?

https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/4419/in-the-internet-vs-on-the-internet

This is an ngram search showing 4 commonly used prepositions with "internet"

enter image description here

"On the internet" is the most commonly used among the four. The buttons below the graph (ngram) shows the "phrase occurrences" in book search results.

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Amazingly, both versions of the expression were used with the exact same frequency until 2000, when "over the internet" became slightly more popular, but both are still correct and current.

Ngrams chart showing "over the internet" vs "via the internet"

From Google Ngrams

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  • These popularity comparisons are without context, though (as I understand it). This doesn't reveal whether a different word should be used depending on the context. It's also so close until 2000 that I wonder if this ngram thing might have like five samples for that time period (the Y axis label is missing).
    – Luc
    Oct 27, 2022 at 14:41

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