The HTML5 <span> tag is primarily a tool which enables the author to group inline-elements that are incorporated within the document. It has to be noted that the HTML5 <span> tag has no effect when it comes to the visual appearance of the document in web browsers like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari and Firefox even if these support the tag. However, HTML5 <span> tag is the key in enabling the author to add a hook to a certain part of the text or a portion of the document.
The use of <span> tag has not changed from HTML4.01 to HTML5. It is still compatible with the Global Attributes and Events Attributes too.