A bottle of water - full or not necessarily full?

Fredziu

Senior Member
Polish
Hello everyone,

If I say She put a bottle of water into the laptop bag, does it mean that the bottle was full of water, or not necessarily?
I mean, if the bottle was only half full, can I still say 'a bottle of water' ?
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Readers will probably assume it is full unless you say otherwise, although it would be presumptuous of them to think that. If it was half full, you might do better to say "a bottle half-full of water". Really, it depends on how exact you want to be.
     

    Fredziu

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you, Uncle Jack. Supposing I don't want to be exact. Maybe the bottle was one-third full, or maybe there was more water in it, it doesn't really matter. I just know it wasn't full for sure. Should I then say this sentence in a different way? e.g.

    A) She put a bottle with water in the laptop bag.

    B) She put a bottle with water in it in the laptop bag.

    Does either of these sound idiomatic and should I use it instead of saying "She put a bottle of water into the laptop" bag if I know that the bottle wasn't full, but only partly filled with water?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    No, if you are not worried about being exact then say "a bottle of water". Neither of your other suggestions are idiomatic. "A bottle of water" does not have to be full, and you cannot be blamed if your readers think it is.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    "A bottle of water" does not mean or imply "a full bottle of water".

    Many people carry a bottle of water with them all day. They take sips from it all day long.:tick:

    Obviously it was only "full" before they took the first sip. And by the end of the day it is almost empty.
     

    Fredziu

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Sorry, I forgot to ask: isn't it correct to say a bottle with water in it or a bottle with some water in it ?
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Sorry, I forgot to ask: isn't it correct to say a bottle with water in it or a bottle with some water in it ?
    Both of those are correct.

    There's a bottle with water in it in my bag. Use it to wash your flip-flops.
    Here's a bottle with some water in it. Those geraniums could do with a watering.
     
    Last edited:

    Fredziu

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thank you, YLR. Is it necessary to keep the "in it" part, or can it be skipped?

    a bottle with water / a bottle with some water
     

    Cenzontle

    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    In my English, "a bottle of water" is full or nearly full; more than 3/4 full, let's say.
    If I carry a water bottle and drink most of it during the day, I no longer have "a bottle of water".
    "Bottle" is the container, but it's also a measure of quantity.
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    Thank you, YLR. Is it necessary to keep the "in it" part, or can it be skipped?

    a bottle with water / a bottle with some water
    I don't think the "in it" is necessary.

    There's a bottle with water in my bag. Use it to wash your flip-flops.
    Here's a bottle with some water. Those geraniums could do with a watering.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Thank you, YLR. Is it necessary to keep the "in it" part, or can it be skipped?

    a bottle with water / a bottle with some water
    I would use "in it" if the presence of water in the bottle would be unexpected:
    I've got a Coke bottle with some water in it.​
    Here, the bottle only contains water (it probably isn't full), and Coke only describes the type of bottle it is, not the present contents.
     

    Fredziu

    Senior Member
    Polish
    In my English, "a bottle of water" is full or nearly full; more than 3/4 full, let's say.
    It's exactly the same in my native language and that's why I asked that question. I'm doing a video with my students and one of the scenes shows a girl putting a plastic bottle in a laptop bag. There's some water in the bottle but it's not even half full. Now, in the pdf that comes with the video there are activities for each episode and a summary. In one place of the summary it says that the girl puts a bottle of water in the laptop bag. I had doubts about it since there wasn't a full or even nearly full bottle of water - there was less than half a bottle.

    Now, from what I have understood so far, it's not true that the girl put a bottle of water in the bag.
    I also understand it's possible to say that she put a bottle with water (in it) in the bag ...

    There's a bottle with water in it in my bag. Use it to wash your flip-flops.
    I don't think the "in it" is necessary.

    There's a bottle with water in my bag. Use it to wash your flip-flops.
    ... in Australian English anyway.
    But what about British English?

    Neither of your other suggestions are idiomatic.
    If it doesn't sound idiomatic in BrE if I say She put a bottle with water (in it) in the bag, then how can I say it naturally?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    If it doesn't sound idiomatic in BrE if I say She put a bottle with water (in it) in the bag, then how can I say it naturally?
    I'd stick with "a bottle of water". If you don't like that, then I think it sounds better to use "some" (and, thinking about it a little more, I would add "in it"):
    A bottle with some water in it​
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You could probably even dispense with the bottle altogether. You could just say 'She put some water in her bag'. Nobody will think she poured some water into her bag all over her laptop, they would assume it was in a container, and most likely a bottle.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Or you can say "she put a water bottle in her bag" - when it's a water bottle, it means it's a bottle that typically contains water, but it might be full or empty at this time.

    I agree that "a bottle of water" usually means full or 3/4 full or something, but I don't think it would be false to say "she put a bottle of water in her bag" if the bottle was half full. Not false. Just slightly misleading. Similarly it would not be false to say "she put a water bottle in her bag" if she had a Coke bottle that she had emptied of Coke (probably by drinking it) and then filled with water. But it would also be slightly misleading; the immediate image that would come to a reader or listener's mind would be a bit off; it's not what the best writer or speaker would say. But still not false.

    Even if the bottle is almost empty, if there's at least a little bit of water in it, then it's true if you call it "a bottle of water." True but misleading. At least that's my take on this question. It's less misleading, and also true, if you call it "a bottle with water" or "a bottle with water in it" ... those are also true if the bottle is full.

    Otherwise you get the odd circumstance where if someone packs a bottle of water in their backpack, then drinks half and puts the remainder back in the pack, and someone asks them "Do you still have your bottle of water?" they would (if being truthful) have to answer "No." That would be very odd in English (at least my dialect in the Southeastern USA). So yes, the half full bottle of water is still a bottle of water.... and the person would truthfully answer "Yes." They might add "But I've drunk half of it already" though :)
     
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