In my another post (Does bridge actually refer to the part on which pedestrians and vehicles pass through in everyday English?) I said

Parts of bridge piers pointed out by red square are under the water, which we can't see directly in the image.

when describing this image

enter image description here

Actually, I am not sure whether I used the right preposition.

Take the bridge pier pointed out by red square as our running example, part of it is out of the water, how should I describe the other part? Should I use under the water or "in the water"?

I've searched a bit on ELL, none result.

2 Answers 2


They are not 'under the water', because you can see them. They are 'in the water' because parts of them are 'under the water'.

  • under (the) water (underwater) - in practically all contexts means "underneath or beneath the surface of the water" = submerged. "the" is optional depending on the context.

Here we can see that one end of the column is above the surface while the other is underneath the surface and that means that the column is in the water. Had it entirely drowned it would have been under water.

  • Thank you so much. Would you please move/copy your answer to another post
    – WXJ96163
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 5:25

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