In my conclusion of my experiments I want to say that "some event occurs everywhere in the network". The network refers to computer networks but not necessarily Internet here. I know that "on the Internet" is a set phrase, but I feel that "some event occurs everywhere on the network" sounds wired as I think the events are occurs "insides the network". What proposition should I use in my sentence? Any suggestion will be appreciated.

  • Not sure if you meant "some events occur". – user3169 Dec 2 '14 at 1:05
  • I am sorry I didn't explain it clearly. I mean some particular event. But not some any arbitrary events. Maybe I should say "The event A occurs everywhere on the network". – Zongyi Zhao Dec 2 '14 at 1:37
  • possible duplicate of Over the Internet or On the Internet? – FumbleFingers Dec 2 '14 at 17:19
  • 1
    I don't think this is a duplicate, because a generic network can be referred to differently than the Internet. – ColleenV Dec 2 '14 at 18:08
  • This recent post might be helpful: ell.stackexchange.com/a/41013/8758 – F.E. Dec 2 '14 at 22:33

There is a choice of prepositions here.

Normally, you would say that a computer is on a network or on the Internet.

However, if you are a network engineer, you might be responsible for administering a firewall, in which case you might be concerned about the distinction between inside the network and outside the network that you operate.

A worm might propagate on/over/through a computer network.

In US-style healthcare, a health insurance plan will cover your treatment only if you go to certain doctors or hospitals. In that case, the plan will speak of in-network coverage and out-of-network coverage.


In a computer network, I would say:

Some event occurs everywhere on the network.

It is the same as with a telephone:

I was talking on the telephone.

Basically you are connected to/interacting with a communications medium.
Refer to this definition of on sense 16b:

16b) through the medium of ⇒ "on the phone, to act on TV"

(AmE disclaimer, this may vary by locale.)

  • A little more about "in the network" and "on the network"? Please. It always makes me confused. – Zongyi Zhao Dec 2 '14 at 1:39
  • It is by definition. I edited my answer so please check it. – user3169 Dec 2 '14 at 2:46

throughout the network is another idiomatic possibility.


Both are meaningful, and they shape the way you think of "the network."

If something is "on" a network, it is not part of the network itself. If something is "in" a network, it is part of it.

We, as humans, use both wordings. "On the network" isolates the network from what you are talking about. This makes the network simpler, and has it interacting with the outside environment. This wording would be used along side concrete statements about network behavior such as "guaranteed end-to-end latency of less than 11us" or "100Mb/s packet switching."

"In the network" embeds what you're talking about in to the network. This makes the network much more complicated, because it has to describe all of the computers connected to it as well. However, there are times where the effect you are describing is found in the interactions between computers. In this case, it is easier to show the interactions if you just treat it as one monolithic body.

As an example, there is a rule of thumb that you should avoid using both TCP/IP and UDP packets in the same game engine. You do this because TCP/IP will try to throttle its bandwidth as high as it can go, and disrupt the UDP packets in unpredictable ways. In this case, you note that I talk about the TCP/IP socket, the UDP socket, the computer, and the network all in one big group. In this case, "in the network" is probably the right term.


Simply put, a person is 'on the network' while a computer or resource is 'in the network'.

"a client system processes information pertinent to a single user on the network while the server processes data relevant to every client in the network"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.