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I thought HCN reacted with H2O to form CN- and H3O^+. So if this is the case, I'd say water is a base because it accepts a proton to form a Hydronium atom. But if it forms a hydroxide ion like you say, then it would be considered an acid, as it would donate one of its hydrogens to form the hydroxide.
As stated above, HCN will react with H2O to form CN- and H3O+. In this case, H2O is acting as a base since it is accepting a proton. The resulting H3O+ is the conjugate acid of H2O that can then act as an acid to donate a proton. However, it's important to remember that H2O is amphoteric and thus can also act as an acid where it donates a proton to produce OH-. The trick to knowing whether H2O will act as an acid or base lies in recognizing whether the other molecule itself is an acid or base.
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