Can you please tell me if I need to use the before water in the context below?

Because the pumping station was badly damaged, the authorities turned off (the) water in the whole city.

Generally I'm aware when to use the and when not, but this context is giving me a hard time.

2 Answers 2


A casual speaker might say that, but a more correct version would be turned off the water supply to the whole city.

  • I think your answer is better than mine so I've upvoted it. I'll leave mine to provide the possible explanation, but if you think that is wrong, or superfluous, please comment and I'll delete it
    – PRL75
    Oct 31, 2022 at 13:41
  • In my opinion, "turned off the water in the whole city" is perfectly correct, and acceptable at any level of formality.
    – TonyK
    Oct 31, 2022 at 23:30

Yes, you need to use "the", if we understand that all the water was turned off.

In that context, water is specified to mean the water supply for the whole city. This is a unique entity as there is only one water supply for the city, so it must take "the".

If you said it without "the":

...the authorities turned off water in the whole city

it sounds like maybe authorities turned off some water in the whole city, which is an odd thing to say.

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