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I know this may be a too generic question, but here it goes anyway.

It is already know that solid water (ice) organizes its molecules in a lattice (in a variety of 16 different crystals and one amorphous phase). See, for instance, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice .

Now, what about liquid water? Is it the case that there are a (limited) number of local structures, like stable clusters or lattices configurations, combining and dissociating over relatively short periods of time, that dominate the liquid phase, loosely resembling the organization of a solid phase (the principal difference being that the hydrogen bonds would be weaker and would break more easily because of thermal agitation)? If so, what are those frequent structures?

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  • $\begingroup$ Do You want to know whether textbooks say the truth? What else is the aim of your question? $\endgroup$ – Georg Jan 31 '15 at 16:10
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Yes, there are various water clusters leading to local order on the scale of a few molecules holding stabilized orientation with one another for measurable timescales. This article(1) is a pretty good introduction to the major varieties in liquid water. This article(2) talks more about various structures available in any phase, including the ices, which gives some pretty good context.

(1) Keutsch, Frank N., Saykally, Richard J., Water clusters: Untangling the mysteries of the liquid, one molecule at a time, 2001, PNAS, 98, 19, 10533–10540, doi:10.1073/pnas.191266498

(2) Ludwig, Ralf, Water: From Clusters to the Bulk, 2001, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 40, 10, 1808-1827, doi:10.1002/1521-3773(20010518)40:10<1808::AID-ANIE1808>3.0.CO;2-1

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There is no lattice or psuedo-lattice structure associated with water while it is the liquid state. Look at it as a medley of H2O molecules combining, breaking apart, and recombining with Hydrogen bonds as the main mediator of attraction.

Water Molecules and Their Interaction Amongst Each Other

Polar molecules (like the above water molecules) have a weak, partial negative charge at one region of the molecule (the O atm) and a partial positive charge elsewhere (The H atm) These bonds that form between water molecules account for some of the unique characteristics of water.

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    $\begingroup$ You are correct that there is no lattice present in liquid water - but this does not mean that there can not be localised structures -and indeed there are... $\endgroup$ – Gerhard Jan 31 '15 at 13:00

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