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a fish is floating on the water or in the water?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by longxianchen, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. longxianchen Senior Member

    chinese
    Hi
    If a fish is floating in water, but we can see it, can we say "it's floating on the water" ? I'm not clear if it's "on the water" or "in the water".
    Thank you in advance
     
  2. Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    If it's floating on the water it's dead.
     
  3. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    "In" is correct. "On" is possible only if the fish is floating right on top of the water, like a boat, and with a fish, that would imply that it's dead. Live fish are in the water, dead fish might float on top of the water.

    (Cross-posted with Andy)
     
  4. Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    Wisconsin
    English - United States
    My semantic quibble is that if something is floating, it has to be at or near the surface of the water, and thus on the water. A fish that's floating is a dead fish. (Unless it's on a life raft, etc.)

    A fish in the water can be said to be suspended or buoyant.
     
  5. longxianchen Senior Member

    chinese
    OK, thank you. But if the fish is under the water, it means we can't see it?
     
  6. Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    Wisconsin
    English - United States
    If the water is clear, it is often possible to look into it and see fish.
     
  7. longxianchen Senior Member

    chinese
    I didn't mate it clear. "Under the water" is under the surface of water ?And fish "in the water(cloudy)" can be seen?
     
  8. Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    Wisconsin
    English - United States
    "Under the water" is an odd phrase; "in the water" or beneath the water's surface" would be more accurate.

    As as to whether one can look into cloudy water and see fish beneath the surface, that's not really a language question. How cloudy or murky is the water? What is the light like? How big are the fish?
     
  9. longxianchen Senior Member

    chinese
    Thanks for all the answers.
     

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