Impact of the Internet on the English Language


The internet has played a crucial part in the development of modern society, as it allows fast and convenient exchange of information. It’s clear the internet has had an impact on language; the question for you in this option is whether that impact has been largely positive or largely negative and why. On the one hand, the internet enriched the language by adding new words, such as’ tweet’, ‘selfie’, and ‘emoji’. On the other hand, the language was shortened because people started to use abbreviations more commonly. This paper claims that even though there are some negative effects of the internet, its influence was largely positive.

Enriching the Vocabulary

The effect of the internet on vocabulary s obvious, as people’s online habits are being translated into everyday conversations. Today, it is common for internet users to say OMG or ROFL in a conversation with a friend. Additionally, the internet has given birth to new phenomena that have not existed before, such as ‘tweets’, ‘hashtags’, and ‘sexting’. Today, people are used to ‘unfriending’ and ‘unliking’, which is something that did not exist before. Estimates demonstrate that more than 5,000 words emerged in the English language due to the internet (India Today Web Desk). Even though the contribution of the internet to the English vocabulary is undoubtedly tremendous, it is unclear whether the influence was positive or negative.

Many new words emerged as abbreviations of the words that were used before. The most commonly known examples are the words ‘OMG’ and ‘srsly’. These words were accepted by Oxford Dictionary Online as real words of the English language due to the frequency of their use (Poh). However, these words are merely replacements for ‘oh my God’ and ‘seriously’, which existed in the language before. Thus, the value of the newly-added words to the language is questionable. In fact, they may have had a negative impact on the language in general, as it decreased its richness.

The internet created a trend of abbreviations, which the words shorter on average. However, it is unclear if it is bad that words become shorter while having the same meaning. If we look at the history of the English language before the internet, the tendency to abbreviations was always there. ‘Airplanes’ became ‘planes’, ‘advertisements’ became ‘ads’, ‘influenza’ became ‘flu’, and ‘gasoline’ became ‘gas’. The value of the last abbreviation is also questionable, as it added to the confusion of English learners by creating another homonym. The tendency to abbreviations is not a new thing, as English lost all its case inflections and verb inflections as it evolved through time. Thus, it does not appear just to blame the internet for creating a trend to abbreviations. It was always there, and the internet merely facilitated the process of the evolution of the language.

It is also worth mentioning that the internet contributed to the size of the vocabulary of English speakers. English teachers have been successful in using internet-based tools to help students develop their vocabulary (Masita 131). Moreover, non-native speakers use the internet to practice and enlarge their vocabulary, which increases the overall level of literacy of English speakers. Thus, the internet may have added to the vocabulary size of an average English speaker.

In summary, the effect of the internet on the English language is mixed. On the one hand, it contributed to its richness by adding new words to the vocabulary. On the other hand, some of these words were abbreviations, which decreased the richness of the language. However, the history of the language demonstrates that the trend for abbreviations was present in the language long before the emergence of the internet. Moreover, abbreviations are associated with only a part of the internet’s additions to the language. The internet also helped numerous English speakers to learn new words. Therefore, it appears evident that the internet had a positive impact on the development of English vocabulary.

Internet and Literacy

One of the central concerns associated with the internet’s impact on the language is the perceived decreased literacy of the internet users. Indeed, it has become common for teenagers to text without bothering to spell the words correctly. Today teachers may see such words as ‘gr8’ and ‘b4’ in the writing of students of all ages. Additionally, people have become used to the cellphone on the computer to correct their spelling. There is no doubt that the internet was the source of such misspellings, which contributed to the overall illiteracy of the students.

However, there is a contrary opinion that texting helps to develop correct spelling. The most enthusiastic texters are often the best spellers, at least for two reasons (India Today Web Desk). On the one hand, texting gives writing practice, which students did not have a chance to receive before the internet times. Before cellphone and the internet, people had little opportunity to write or type anything. Their spelling practice consisted of writing occasional letters, writing papers at school, or creating documents at work. The emergence of the internet allowed people to practice in typing every day, and increased exposure is likely to increase writing skills. Second, the grammar checker corrects the spelling of misspelled words. This implies that people get to see their mistakes and learn how to spell words. As a result, spelling skills improve.

One may say that the arguments provided above may be just anecdotal evidence, which is mere speculation. While this may be true, it is also fair to say that the internet having a negative effect on literacy has also only anecdotal evidence. A recent study by Zebroff aimed at answering the question of whether texting is a help or hindrance to literacy. The results of the research demonstrated that there was no empirical evidence to support either of the claims (Zebroff 351). The scholar recommended conducting additional research on the topic to collect more evidence on the matter to answer the question with high reliability. Thus, it is unclear whether the emergence of the internet affected literacy positively or negatively.

Future Effects of the Internet on Language

While the internet created a new era in the history of the English language by introducing new words and changing the rules of communication, it is very likely that the world will experience a decrease in the impact of the internet on the English language. When something new appears, people are very likely to become excited about it. Using new words and abbreviations became a trend that everyone wanted to follow. However, trends change as time passes, and many things that were popular before no longer exist. Many people remember saying TGIF every Friday; however, this abbreviation is no longer used. One of the most popular abbreviations from the beginning of the century is no longer popular, and people stopped using it. The same things may happen to ‘OMG’, ‘LOL’, and ‘hype’ in the future.

Today, people may notice that some of the internet trends have disappeared. Many teenagers reported stopping using abbreviations while texting after their parents started using them (India Today Web Desk). After the older generation starts using the same language their children use, it becomes not ‘cool’ anymore. Using internet language is no longer fresh and unique, and many of the negative effects the internet had on language may subside in the future. Language appears to have its means of filtering everything unfavorable and accepting everything favorable for its development. Thus, even though the internet may have had a negative impact on the English language, this effect will be negated in the future.


The internet has had a significant impact on the development of the English language. On the one hand, its effect was positive, as many new words were introduced to the language. As a result, the language became richer and more vivid. On the other hand, the impact was negative, as many new words were mere abbreviations of the existing words. Thus, since three words were shorter, the internet actually made the language less vivid. Moreover, there is a danger that people will have spelling problems as they become used to autocorrect. However, there is no empirical evidence that texting and autocorrect have any effect on literacy. Additionally, the internet added much more than abbreviations to the language. Therefore, it may be concluded that the effect of the internet on the English language was more positive than negative.

Works Cited

India Today Web Desk. “How has Internet changed language?” India Today. Web.

Poh, Michael. “20 Dictionary Words Originated from The Internet.” Hongkiat. Web.

Masita, Maya. “Teaching Vocabulary Using Blended Learning Method.” Ethical Lingua: Journal of Language Teaching and Literature, vol. 7, no. 1, 2020, pp. 128-135.

Zebroff, Dmitri. “Youth texting: Help or hindrance to literacy?” Education and Information Technologies, v. 23, no. 1, 2018, pp. 341-356.

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