A citation from the movie The Town:

And one of the guys told me that... to walk until I felt the water on my toes. It was the longest walk in my life. I kept thinking I'd step off a cliff. And then I felt the water.

Why is it the water and not just water? Any water feel alike. They could have gone with just water. There is no possibility that you feel some water on your toes and say: "No, it is not that water I was told about, I should keep going until I feel the water."


The definite article is there to emphasize which water they mean. The robbers/kidnappers want to make it clear they mean the water of the ocean, not just any water. Otherwise the kidnapped man could immediately spit on his toes, then take off his blindfold and recognize his kidnappers :)

Even though they leave "which water" unspoken, the implication is clear to the kidnapped man because they are on the beach.

Realistically, the first "the" could have been left off and it still would have been clear. The second "the" I would keep, because it poses a question: which water? Answer: The water on my toes, the water that ended my ordeal. It's more poetic this way :)

  • 1
    Yes, "the water" here means something like "the water [of the ocean]", and probably "the water [of the ocean, at that beach]". Just saying "water" is equivalent to saying, "walk until you feel [some] water", or "[any] water", which might be appropriate under some circumstances but not here, where they are looking at a specific goal. – Wayne Mar 2 '14 at 16:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.