Freshwater vs. fresh water

Freshwater is an adjective used to describe inland bodies of water and things that live in water that is not salty. It is two words—fresh water—when it doesn’t function as an adjective. So a freshwater lake, for instance, is one that has fresh water, and a freshwater fish is one that lives in fresh water.

See also


Saltwater vs. salt water


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  1. helpfull very much

  2. Hello, thanks for the super clear and, intuitively, correct explanation! however, the Merriam-Webster online dictionary gives both ‘noun and adjective entries for the word “Freshwater”, where the ‘noun’ part goes first, and the ‘adjective’ follows next. Could you please help clarify? very much appreciated!

  3. Laura Lockhart Altobelli says:

    Although I would agree with the delineation above in many contexts, “freshwater” as one word should also be used as a noun in scientific texts when distinguishing between types of environmental resources.

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