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Difference among Under, Below, and Beneath

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Difference among Under, Below, and Beneath

Postby lovegators » Wed 05.27.2009 12:18 pm

Can you tell me the difference among Under, Below, and Beneath? I know that these words are used to describe locations, but I can't tell how I use them differently...Can I say like 'Where's the bag? It's below the desk. or It's beneath the desk'?
I would be glad if you show me some examples. Thank you. :D
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Re: Difference among Under, Below, and Beneath

Postby adriannrod » Wed 05.27.2009 1:05 pm

To say under and beneath could be used the same way. Below makes it sound like you are above, or higher than whatever you are describing. Also, beneath is used a bit more formally, as far as I can tell.
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Re: Difference among Under, Below, and Beneath

Postby Sairana » Thu 05.28.2009 6:19 am

Wow, this is a tough question to answer.

"Below" always compares a location with another object, but the two are generally not touching or overlapping.

"Under" is much more specific: it suggests two things in the same location, and one of them is out of sight / hidden.

"Beneath" can be used interchangeably with "under", but I think most people don't these days. Most often, I hear "beneath" used with more intangible things like social class or work relationships, and in poetic contexts such as "I walked beneath the oak trees."

In your examples, the bag could be below the desk, but I would be imagining a desk floating in the air with the bag on the floor. ^_^
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Re: Difference among Under, Below, and Beneath

Postby lovegators » Thu 05.28.2009 9:32 am

Thank you very much for answering tough questions! That is very helpful to me. :D
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Re: Difference among Under, Below, and Beneath

Postby Gundaetiapo » Tue 06.02.2009 5:33 pm

According to dictionary.com
Below, under, beneath indicate position in some way lower than something else. Below implies being in a lower plane: below the horizon, the water line. Under implies being lower in a perpendicular line: The book is under the chair. Beneath may have a meaning similar to below, but more usually denotes being under so as to be covered, overhung, or overtopped: the pool beneath the falls.


I'm not sure that explanation is very helpful in practice though. You asked for examples though.

1a: Hang the picture under the other one.
1b: Hang the picture below the other one.
1c: Hang the picture beneath the other one.

I'd probably use 1b. I think 1a and 1c are probably ok.

2a: The letter is under that pile of papers.
2b: The letter is below the pile of papers.
2c: The letter is beneath the pile of papers.

2a and 2c sound good. 2b doesn't though. Maybe "below" isn't likely to be used if there is physical contact. At least, I can't think of a "below" example where the two objects touch.
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Re: Difference among Under, Below, and Beneath

Postby two_heads_talking » Thu 06.04.2009 10:04 am

The main difference is language type . I will use someone else's reply to answer your question.. When asked what is the difference between under, underneath, below and beneath, Conchita (self titled language coach) from English-Test.net had this to say..

Under as a preposition can mean
1 - in a place which is directly below: he hid under the table; the coin rolled under the piano.
2 - less than: she is under thirty; he is under age; it was sold for under $100; he ran the mile in under four minutes.

Below as an adverb means lower down: he stood on the hill and looked down into the valley below.
As a preposition, it means lower than: the temperature never goes below 25?; if you look below the surface; you shouldn't have hit him below the belt; his marks were considerably below (the) average.

Underneath as a preposition means under/beneath: she wore a long woollen cardigan underneath her jacket; he was sheltering underneath a chestnut tree.
As an adverb it also means under: he was wearing a thin shirt with nothing underneath.

Beneath as an adverb means underneath/below: he looked out of the plane at the mountains beneath.
As a preposition it means under: have you looked beneath the cooker?
He thinks it is beneath him, he thinks it is too insignificant/too unimportant for him to deal with.

some examples..
"beneath" is a preposition and must have an object: The shoes are beneath the bed.
"underneath" is a noun or an adverb: The underneath (n) of the chair has been torn; Put the flowers on top of the table,

The temperature was 3 degrees below freezing this morning.
The ship's captain went below deck to inspect the engine room.
Her examination results were below average.

He crawled under the hedge to get into the field.
She dived under the water in search of her lost bracelet.
Come out from under the table. It's no use trying to hide!

He found his missing credit card underneath a pile of old newspapers.
She appeared to be a bad person, but underneath she had a heart of gold.
I was digging in my garden. Suddenly a toad crawled out from underneath a large stone.the packages underneath (adv).

I hope that helps some.
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Re: Difference among Under, Below, and Beneath

Postby lovegators » Thu 06.04.2009 11:48 am

I really appreciate the comprehensive explanation with useful examples that you all kindly gave me!!
I will print them out for my study. I am so glad that through this site I can get the most lively knowledge of English from English speakers!!
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