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Below and under

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The prepositions below and under can both mean ‘lower than’. But there are some differences.


Below is preferred when one thing is not directly under another.

  • When the sun sets, it sinks below the horizon.

Below is used in measurements of temperature and height, and in other cases where we think of a vertical scale.

  • The temperature is 10 degrees below zero.
  • The Dead Sea is below sea level.
  • She is below average in intelligence.


We prefer under when something is covered or hidden by what is over it.

  • I think the cat is under the bed.
  • The whole village was under water.

We usually use under, not below, to mean ‘less than’ or ‘younger than’.

  • There were under fifty people at the meeting.
  • You cannot see this film if you are under 18.


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