Our extensive online presence has brought some new words and phrases to our vocabulary. “Log In” and “Log On” are examples of phrases that we didn’t use frequently before, but are now part of our daily lives.
What’s the correct use for each of those phrases?
“Log In” and “Log On” are both correct, but don’t mean the same. “Log On” can be used anytime you’re connecting to an online platform, like a website, with no need for credentials to access it. “Log In” indicate the connection to a platform that requires a password and username.
Take a look at the examples below:
- I forgot my social media log in, and had to follow the steps to recover my account.
- You can log on to the web while you wait for the meeting to start.
“Log in” and “Log On” are the same in the fact that both indicate the connection with something online or virtual. But they have differences.
In the first sentence, you see someone struggling a bit with their social media “Log In” because they lost their credentials to “Log In”. In that context, “Log On” wouldn’t work and shouldn’t be used.
In the second sentence, someone is invited to “Log On” to the Internet while they wait for an appointment. To surf the web doesn’t require a “Log In” and, therefore, “Log On” is the appropriate form to use here.
“Log In” is the expression we use to indicate that virtual space is or will be accessed, which requires that the user have some sort of credentials, usually in the form of a username and a password.
Take a look at some examples below:
- My log-in for social is complicated, I can never seem to get it right.
- I haven’t logged in to social media for a long time.
- Is there a login for the website, or is it widely available?
- I completely forgot my log-in for the program. Can you help?
- I clicked the button to log in, but keep getting an error message.
To understand the dynamic behind the phrase “Log In”, think about the fact that whenever we need to access restricted premises we must “sign-in”, or something similar. We “sign in” for keynote addresses or lectures, for example. We also “check in” into hotels.
It’s the same idea for the phrase “Log In”. If you need special access, or if it’s closed to those who don’t have credentials, the correct form to use is always “Log In”.
“Log On” is the phrase to use to indicate a virtual space or application is being accessed, but without the need for a specific credential. For example, if you’re just surfing some websites, with no need to “Log In”, then the expression “Log On” is the correct to use.
Take a look at the examples:
- I log on to the computer and started the research.
- Class, please all log on to your computers so we can begin the class.
- Joseph quickly log on to the computer and got to work.
- What’s your log on for your email account? (incorrect)
- What’s your log-in for your email account?
“Log On” only doesn’t work when referring to specific credentials needed to access a platform. For example, in sentence 4, because you need a username and password to do that, “Log On” isn’t appropriate. In sentence 5, we see “Log In”, which is the correct phrase here.
Which one of those forms is used more often, “Log In” or “Log On”? Take a look at the graph from Google Ngram Viewer below.
As of now, “Log In” appears more frequently than “Log On”, and seems to be the currently preferred phrase. However, the graph shows that it wasn’t always the case. In fact, “Log In” and “Log On” have swapped positions on the graph on a few occasions.
Both “Log In” and “Log On” are phrases you can use when referring to your online presence. Keep in mind that “Log On” should be used for general online activities, that do not require a username and password. “Log In” is appropriate when credentials are needed to access the platform.