below / under / beneath / underneath

The word under is the most common. It is usually used for three-dimensional objects:

  • I found my textbook under the bed.
  • The cat is lying under the table.
  • The papers are under that magazine.

    Under can be used both when the objects are touching (as in the papers and magazine) and when the objects are not touching (as in the cat and table).

    You can also use “under” with numbers to mean “less than”:

  • He ran a marathon in under 4 hours. or less than 4 hours
  • We’re looking to buy a house that’s under $100,000. or less than $100,000

    The word below is often used when describing levels or limits:

  • The people who live in the apartment below mine are so loud.
  • The price of gas dropped below $3 a gallon.
  • Temperatures will be below freezing tonight.

    It is also used to describe something on a lower position on a page:

  • The map below shows the crime rates in the U.S.
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    Beneath and underneath are just more formal words for under:

  • The sailors had no idea that there were dangerous rocks underneath the surface of the water.
  • We sat on the beach and enjoyed a wonderful day beneath the clear blue sky.