What do all of these GitHub words mean? -- For beginners


New to coding? Is everyone around you talking about GitHub and you aren’t quite sure what they are talking about? This post will go over the basics of GitHub.




Computer (laptop or desktop)

Internet connection

GitHub 2.16.7 account (optional)



GitHub is a platform that hosts your code (repositories and projects). GitHub allows you to showcase your work, collaborate with others, and track your progress on projects. For the purposes of this post, we will focus on the terminology of GitHub.



  • A repository (or repo) is like a project folder where all your files and pieces of your project are stored. Think of the repository as a container holding your project.



  • GitHub gives you the option of creating a “project.” A project in GitHub is just another folder to better help you organize your work.

  • Tip: Projects are a great feature to use when working on a team or managing a larger project.



  • Remote refers to a repository that is held on the GitHub server.

  • Example: When you “push” your work to the GitHub repo. That is the “remote” location.



  • Local refers to a repository on your computer.

  • Example: Working on your project in terminal using a text editor on your computer would be “local” work.



  • A commit is essentially a save. When you “commit” you are saving to your local repository but also creating a snapshot in time.

  • Tip: You can commit whenever you would like. It is important to include a message with every commit. The message would include any change you made. There are several resources out there to help you create a great commit message. Click here for one resource.

  • Example commit message: “Fixed typo in first paragraph”



  • A fork is a copy of someone's code that you can edit yourself. While ensuring they receive the credit for the code as it stays remote (on the GitHub server).



  • A clone is a copy of someone’s code that you can edit and is  downloaded/cloned it to your local computer.



  • A branch is a set of coding changes to the master branch but has a different name. A branch would be created locally after forking and cloning.



  • Allows you to add other GitHub members to work on a project simultaneously.


GitHub is a complex platform that offers many services. As a beginner it can be tricky to navigate and understand what you are doing. A good understanding of the terminology listed above will get you well on your way to using GitHub.



Stephanie McInelly is a marriage and family therapist and aspiring front-end web developer. Who believes in bringing individuals the necessary tools to achieve their goals.


Stephanie’s fascination with technology began during her work in telehealth. She has worked remotely and provided therapeutic services.


Stephanie has graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy. Currently, Stephanie is a student in the Moms Can Code School working to build her coding skills and set out into the tech field.


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