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under water or under the water?

 
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crliu



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2003 9:03 pm    Post subject: under water or under the water? Reply with quote

Which is correct?

I can hold my breath under the water for two minutes or

I can hold my breath under water for two minutes.


Please help, thanks.
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obelix



Joined: 09 Feb 2003
Posts: 304

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both of them sound OK to me.
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crliu



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do these two sentences have the same meaning?

Thanks for your reply, obelix.
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 109
Location: Scotland/Mexico

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 11:36 am    Post subject: Re: under water or under the water? Reply with quote

crliu wrote:
Which is correct?
I can hold my breath under the water for two minutes or
I can hold my breath under water for two minutes.


I think there is a subtle difference between these two sentences. If you were standing next to a pool, then both work. However if you were standing in the middle of the desert and you used the first example, some people would wonder "What water?" In this case "the water" is understood to refer to a particular body of water that the listener is familiar with". If there aint no water nearby you have a problem!

So in short, I'd say the second example is better.

Iain
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--Chinese Proverb
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crliu



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Iain. Your explanation is very clear. By the way, why people often say "The child can play the piano well", instead of "The child can play piano well"? Are both correct expressions?
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both are correct, but to my ears the first is more likely. I can't explain why, though.
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both are correct, but to my ears the first is more likely. I can't explain why, though.
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Lib



Joined: 02 May 2003
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2003 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Crliu,
At least in British English you use 'play' without 'the' for sports: We play basketball every evening. When he was younger he used to play football.
And we use 'play' with 'the' for musical instruments: Can you play the piano? He plays the guitar in a group.
I can't say if this is the same in American English, but I imagine it is. After all, they're not all that different.
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crliu



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2003 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Lib, for your usage rules. They are clear and easy to remember.

With regards to the "under water" question, is it also correct to say "I can hold my breath underwater for two minutes", using "underwater" as an adverb in the sentence? Does it express the same meaning as the previous two sentences? Is it preferable?
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2003 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, crliu, it is correct and it is probably the most natural way to say it.

Yes, Lib, that's how "to play" works in American English, too.
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crliu



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2003 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, bud, for your reply.

Do the following sentences make sense?

Some drivers have a lot of accidents. They must pay closer attention to traffic while driving.

How do I know when to use "traffic" or "the traffic" in a phrase or sentence?
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2003 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, they are correct and they make sense. Still, I would probably make two changes: "... drivers get into a lot..." and "They should pay..."

"To get into an accident" is the typical way to express the thought of having a car accident. "To have an accident" could instead mean spilling your coffee in the car, although in context your sentence would not be confused.

I cannot explain why I prefer "should" to "must." It may just be a personal preference.

Also, I'll leave it to someone else to explain when to use "the" or "a/an" or nothing. For me, it would only be a guess.

Way to go, crliu. Your English is excellent.
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dduck



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 109
Location: Scotland/Mexico

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2003 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bud wrote:
I cannot explain why I prefer "should" to "must." It may just be a personal preference.


You must fasten you seatbelt.

Some external person or group says that you need to fasten your seatbelt. It doesn't imply agreement on part of the speaker.

You should do you homework.

Whereas here, the speaker is expressing her/his own opinion that you need to do your homework.

Iain
_________________

Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.
--Chinese Proverb
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bud



Joined: 09 Mar 2003
Posts: 2111
Location: New Jersey, US

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2003 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great explanation, dduck. It makes sense now that you've said it.
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