There is often confusion over whether water is living or nonliving, as it is one of the building blocks and necessities for all living things, it can change in shape and form, and it exists in nature. However, while water is essential to life, it's a nonliving, natural thing. Read on to learn more about water, what the characteristics are that make up a living thing — and why water is not one.
What Living Things Need Water?
All living things on the planet
need water to survive. In fact, the ocean is "home" to more species of life on the planet than any other. However, land and air creatures need water as well. Single-celled organisms such as cyanobacteria need water, mammals need water and humans need water. Even plant life needs water.
Why Is Water Not "Living?"
There are certain characteristics that make up a living thing. Generally speaking, living things are able to reproduce, grow, develop into something, change and die. Living things also have certain requirements to live, such as light, water, food, oxygen and shelter. Water is one of the building blocks of life, but it cannot reproduce. It cannot grow or develop, and it does not die.
What Are Other "Nonliving" Things?
If you were to go into a forest, you would be able to observe both living things and nonliving things. In a forest, you may see many living things, such as trees, animals, bacteria or fungus. You would also see nonliving things, such as water (or rain), sunlight, oxygen and rocks.
What Are Other Misconceptions About Living and Nonliving Things?
Water is not the only thing that's often mistaken for being a living thing (or vice versa). For example, in the reverse, some may believe that a seed is not a living thing. Of course, a seed may not yield fruit without air, water or soil, but it's still a living thing. It simply needs nutrients to grow. Similarly, a leaf that falls to the ground is considered dead; yet, it's still a living thing.
Wind, like water, often gets mistaken for being a living thing because of its characteristics, such as "angry," "gentle" or "strong." Yet, wind, like water, is nonliving.
What Are Questions to Determine if Something Is Living or Nonliving?
If you're unsure whether something is living or nonliving, there are some
questions to ask yourself to help you figure it out. Some things you could ask yourself would be:
- Can it die?
- Does it need nutrients to live?
- Can it reproduce or make babies?
- Does it change, develop and grow?
- Does it come from a living thing? (For example, a baby is born of its mother).
Most living things share the above characteristics, so if the answer is "no" to these questions, then it likely is a nonliving thing.
Why Is Water Mistaken for a Living Thing?
Like wind, water is often easily mistaken for a living thing due to its characteristics. Water is especially confusing since every living thing needs it to survive. However, think about how people describe water, such as a "strong" undertow, a "weak" trickle or a "heavy" rain. Also, water change change its shape and form, such as with steam and ice. Because living things all grow and develop, some can easily mistake these changes for living characteristics.