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Thread: below vs under

    • Join Date: Dec 2005
    • Posts: 48

    Thumbs down below vs under

    hi.what is the difference between below and under.

    thanks in advance.

  1. Editor,
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 59,744

    Re: below vs under

    They can often be used interchangeably. Sometimers the difference seems to be collocation- I say 'under the bed' because it seems to me that everyone else does. I use 'under' with verbs of movement- I would say that boat is going under a bridge, not below it.

    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059

    Re: below vs under

    I'll suggest that 'below' has more of a permanent sense or a longer sense.

    The plane flew below the clouds because they had lost their instruments.

    The plane flew under the bridge.

    ? The plane flew below the bridge. ?

    The clock hung below the shelves.

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: below vs under

    Hi Adullstudent.

    Both words can mean 'in a lower position than'. But if you're talking about something being covered by something, use 'under'. So, 'I hid the key under a rock'. Or, 'officials said there was nothing under President Bush's jacket'.

    Use 'below' when you're talking about something that's not physically immediately under, or not necessarily immediately under. So you say, 'below the surface of the water'. That might be anywhere below the surface of the water, not necessarily just touching it. Or, 'twenty miles below the earth's surface', definitely not immediately under it. And, by extension, we say things like, 'below the poverty line'.

    In general, 'under' indicates a direct vertical relationship of objects; 'below' indicates merely being on a lower level.

    Read more here and here

    All the best.


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