How would one use determiners(這/那)with mass nouns like 水?

I don't mean like phrases like 這杯水, where it's talking about a glass of water, but more like a large body of water, steam, or river.

3 Answers 3


For mass nouns referring to a large quantity or unspecified amount of a substance, you would not normally use determiners 这/那. Some examples:

  • 水涨船高 ("the rising water lifts the boat")
  • 大量的水 ("a large amount of water")
  • 河里的水 ("the water in the river")

Some exceptions are:

  • 这些/那些 + mass noun - to refer to a specific group or quantity: 这些水 ("these waters", specific bodies of water)

  • 这/那 + noun phrase - if the mass noun is part of a noun phrase: 这条河的水 ("the water of this river")

So in general, avoid 这/那 with standalone mass nouns when referring to a large quantity or unspecified amount.


It depends on the situation you are dealing with.

When you are talking to someone and the stream/river is in front of you and him/her, you use 這.e.g 這條河很清澈。

When you describe a river to someone you are speaking, you use 那. e.g. 那條河水很深。

Update: Common characters used before mass nouns of water:條, 片, 池, 場 e.g. 這條河, 這片大海, 這池死水, 這場大雨

  • My question wasn’t about 這 or 那, but about if one would use a measure word for this water or that water, or if the determiner would just go before the noun.
    – Tosaku
    Feb 28 at 16:52

How would one use determiners(這/那)with mass nouns like 水

use appropriate classifiers and adverbs as well


這水 = this water (can be as little as a bottle of it)

這場大水 = this great flood

這片水域 = this body of water

這石 = this stone (can be as small as pea-size)

這巨石 = this huge boulder

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