Possible structures adopted by bulk water are discussed with special reference to the possible presence of monomeric water and the detection of 'free' -OH groups. The way in which water tends to accommodate small hydrophobic molecules is considered, with particular reference to the clathrate theory and the phenomenon of 'structure making'. Cage-pairing and cage-sharing processes are described. Consideration of the way water solvates cations and anions is followed by a discussion of the way these solvated ions interact with the bulk medium. Large symmetrical alkylammonium ions probably encourage clathrate cage formation, at least at low temperatures. Particular reference is made to the use of infrared, Raman, ultraviolet, n.m.r. and e.s.r. spectroscopic techniques to the study of water and aqueous solutions.