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Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher we answer a question from Mali.

Question:

What are the differences between ''register'', ''sign in'' and ''log in?”

Thanks.

Kouame, Mali.

Answer:

Dear Kouame,

Thank you for writing to us with your question. These words and phrases are all common when we use the internet. Sometimes you can use them when discussing activities that do not require a computer.

Let’s look at some of the similarities and differences.

Log in

Let us begin with the phrasal verb “log in.” This expression means to gain permission to use a computer system. Logging in usually requires a username and password. When a user logs in, the computer system keeps a record, or “log,” of that user’s session on the system. We can also use the single word “login” as a noun to describe such a session on a computer.

Sign in

We can use the phrasal verb “sign in” in the same way as “log in.” But unlike “log in,” “sign in” is common outside of the computer world. As part of security measures in an office building or school, you may have to provide information about yourself before you enter. That could mean writing your name (or “signing” your name) on a paper or showing an identity card. This creates a record of visitors to a place.

Register

Finally, the verb “register” means to provide information about yourself the first time you use a computer program or attend an event. You often need to register before you can sign in or log in to a service. Another phrase we use for “register” is “sign up.”

Here is an example:

I recently signed up for a birdwatching class!

Registering for something sometimes involves paying money, while signing in or logging in to something usually does not require a payment.

What question do you have about American English? Send us an email at learningenglish@voanews.com

And that’s Ask a Teacher.

I’m Jill Robbins.

Dr. Jill Robbins wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

phrasal verbgrammar. a group of words that functions as a verb and is made up of a verb and a preposition, an adverb, or both

sessionn. a period of time that is used to do a particular activity

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