Difference Between Under and Below (With Table)

Prepositions play a vital role in English grammar. Prepositions convey time, direction, place, location, spatial relationships between objects. To express or compare something lower or less than the other thing to which it is compared, can be expressed through two common words called under and below. Though both the words seem similar, they have distinct differences.

Under vs Below

The main difference between under and below is that under is only used as a preposition while below is used as a preposition as well as an adverb. Under is also used as prefix while below is not used as any prefix in English grammar.

Under describes the position of one thing concerning another. Under signifies that something is at a lower level than another to which it is being compared. Under can be used in context to manage something under command or to be in control.

On the other hand, below signifies that one thing is at a much lower level than the object to which it is being compared. It describes objects or items at different levels. Below can also be used to imply any negative meaning.

Comparison Table Between Under and Below

Parameters of ComparisonUnderBelow
Definition Under describes position of something or someone with respect to another Below describes objects on a different level
Usage More commonly used Comparatively less used
TypePrepositionPreposition or adverb
Other applications Under stress, under someone’s influence, under construction, under pressure, or even under a spell Below sea level, below the surface, below the poverty line, below numerical terms, below certain temperatures
Similar idioms Under the weather, and under one’s breath Below the salt, below the belt and below par

What is Under?

Under is a preposition. It describes the position of one thing concerning another. Under signifies that something is at a lower level than another to which it is being compared. The object to which it is being compared is usually directly above it.

Under is a commonly used preposition in everyday speech. Under is considered as a safe word. The word can be used in confusing contexts also and most of the time it turns out correct. The main idea that the world tries to convey is about a lower physical position. One person usually has authority while the other person is under that authority.

Under can also be used in expressions to convey a special meaning. An example of the sentence is “She lost weight under control with drastic diets”. The sentence conveys control to be synonymous with managing and achieving something successfully. Under can be used in context to manage something under command or to be in control.

Some examples of sentences are “She sat under the stars and listened to music”, “The cat is sitting under the bed” or “The boxes are kept under the bed to save space”. Under can also suggest something in less numerical terms. Example – “There are under seven children in the class”. Under can vividly describe the state or stage of any process or project. Example – “The building is under construction”.

What is Below?

Below is a preposition. It describes the position of one thing concerning another. The things which are being compared are usually at a distance. Below signifies that one thing is at a much lower level than the object to which it is being compared. It describes objects or items at different levels. Below can also be used to imply any negative meaning.

Example sentences of below as a preposition which significantly lower or less than are “The temperature is below normal for the entire week”, “She sat below the tree and ate her food”, “The sun sets below the horizon”, “The fishes are swimming below the water”.

Below is also a common preposition but is generally used in the context of similar grouping. Like “Please read the attached documents below”, signifies the document being a part of a male or group of papers that can be grouped. Another example would be “The recent photo was hung below the family photos on the wall”. The sentence explains how all the photos are part of the same wall. The word “below” is a comparatively less used word.

Below is also used as an adverb. An example sentence would be “I stood at the top of the mountain and looked at the valley below”. Below also describes covering like example “She lied down and slept under the covers”. The antonym below is above.

Main Differences Between Under and Below

  1. Under can only be used as a preposition while below is used as a preposition as well as an adverb.
  2. Under is the most commonly used word in everyday speech while below is less commonly used.
  3. Under signifies being lower in context to the perpendicular line while below signifies being in the lower plane.
  4. Under is also used as a prefix while below is not used as a prefix.
  5. Example of a sentence with under – “During the examination, the students are under stress” and example of a sentence with below – “The Government made new schemes for people below the poverty line”.

Conclusion

Both under and below are used as prepositions. Both the words are used to compare two objects or items concerning their positions. Both the words signify a particular object being in a lower place or position or even being covered by some other object or item. Other than position, both the words have other meanings also.

Both the words have interesting idioms in the English language. Several expressions can be formed with both words. However, under is more widely used and is a safer word choice since it can suit most sentence formations. Both the words have similar meanings. It is essential to understand the key differences between both words so that the words can be used efficiently in speech.

References

  1. https://academic.oup.com/eltj/article-abstract/52/3/197/385445
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749596X00927426
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