A: Seawater is water from a sea or an ocean.

B: seawater is water of sea or ocean

C: the water of sea or ocean.

Although I know C is not a sentence, in fact I am wondering if the concept of A and B semantically or technically mean the same thing together with C!

  • 2
    Idiomatically we'd say "...from the sea or the ocean" even though we don't mean a particular sea or ocean there. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 8 '15 at 12:20

To my (non-native) ear, both B and C sound unidiomatic. It is not because C is a phrase and not a full sentence, but because the meaning you want to convey calls for the preposition "from". All three constructions:

Water from the sea

Water of the sea

Water in the sea

refer to sea water (no one would think you are talking about tap water, e.g., if you used any of these, but it is the sentence you use them in that makes a difference).

If you look at this Google Ngram you might think that "water from the sea" gained slight advantage only in the last 50-60 years, but if you try to look up a definition of "seawater" or "sea water", many dictionaries will not use the construction "water of the sea". Here is an example from ODO:

Water in or taken from the sea

and you will find matching or very similar definitions in: LDOCE, M-W, Macmillan and AHD.

An aside: even though your question is about prepositions and not articles, as you can see in the Ngram linked above, and as TRomano said in comment, you need the definite article there.

  • 1
    But if it's lakewater or springwater, it is "water from a lake" or "from a spring" :) – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 8 '15 at 12:42
  • @TRomano That's true (and I haven't thought of that, so thanks :-)) - but I'm not going to ask "why?" - with articles in English, the best answer is usually "because" (and I'm guessing that would be the case here). Oh well... – Lucky Jul 8 '15 at 13:35
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    @TRomano It seems that "the sea" (and "the ocean") traditionally where seen as very big and in practice, unique. Anyone could see multiple rivers or lakes or springs in their lifetime, but often only one sea. Hence the sea, comparable to the use of the sky. Only when traveling very long distances, seas became countable, nameable things, and even oceans did :) – oerkelens Jul 8 '15 at 14:21
  • @oerkelens: sounds very plausible to me. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 8 '15 at 14:34
  • @oerkelens There is an explanation! And a good one too. Thanks :-)! – Lucky Jul 8 '15 at 14:49

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