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Below vs. Under: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 9, 2023
"Below" typically denotes a position lower in vertical space, often without direct contact. "Under" suggests direct coverage or concealment by something else.

Key Differences

"Below" often indicates a position that is lower on a vertical plane, without necessarily implying direct contact. For example, a plane might fly below the clouds. In contrast, "under" is generally used to describe something that is directly beneath or covered by another object, like a cat sleeping under a table.
In the context of temperature or measurements, "below" is preferred. We'd say the temperature is below freezing. Conversely, "under" often implies a limit or threshold that isn't surpassed. If a child is under 12, they might get a discount at the movies.
"Below" can also suggest inferiority in rank or status, whereas "under" might not have this connotation. An assistant manager might rank below a general manager. On the other hand, "under" can be used to indicate governance, authority, or guidance, such as an employee working under a supervisor.
When discussing levels or layers, "below" is often utilized to specify a position on a given scale, like a diver being 10 meters below the surface. "Under", in such contexts, might indicate a more general position, without specifying an exact level, like fish swimming under the water's surface.
In literature or formal writing, "below" might refer to a subsequent section of a text, such as "details are provided below". "Under", in similar contexts, can be used to signify conditions or circumstances, like "under these conditions, the experiment proceeded".

Comparison Chart


Lower on a vertical plane without implying direct contact.
Directly beneath or covered by another object.


Used for specific measurements (e.g., below 32°F).
Implies not surpassing a limit (e.g., children under 12).

Rank or Status

Can suggest inferiority.
Typically doesn't imply rank but can indicate governance or authority.

Levels or Layers

Specifies position on a scale (e.g., below the surface).
More general, without specifying an exact level (e.g., under the water).

In Writing

Refers to a subsequent section of text.
Can signify conditions or circumstances.

Below and Under Definitions


In a subsequent part of a text or document.
Further instructions can be found below.


Being subject to or governed by.
The soldiers operated under strict orders.


Inferior in rank, status, or quality.
Private ranks below corporal in the military.


Less than the amount specified.
I finished the task in under an hour.


Underneath the surface of.
Divers explored the region below the water.


In a state or process of.
The city is under construction.


At a lower level or position.
The shoes are stored below the coats.


Affected by (a particular influence or circumstance).
She's under a lot of stress lately.


Less than a specific measurement or degree.
The score was below average.


Directly beneath something.
The cat hid under the bed.


In or to a lower place; beneath.


In a lower position or place than
A rug under a chair.


To or into a lower position or place than
Rolled the ball under the couch.


Can "below" imply inferiority in rank?

Yes, for instance, a lieutenant ranks below a captain.

In literature, which word points to a subsequent section?

"Below" often refers to a subsequent section, like "see the details below".

Is "below" always about direct contact?

No, "below" often indicates a position lower without implying direct contact.

Can "under" suggest being governed by someone?

Yes, if someone works "under" a boss, it means they're governed or supervised by them.

Which word suggests a specific measurement: "below" or "under"?

"Below" often relates to specific measurements, like "below 32°F".

Which word can suggest being subject to certain conditions?

"Under" can suggest this, as in "under these conditions".

Which word typically doesn't imply direct contact?

"Below" doesn't necessarily imply direct contact.

If a ball is directly covered by a box, is it below or under the box?

The ball is "under" the box.

Is "under" commonly used in indicating age?

Yes, like "children under 12 get a discount".

Can "under" imply a state or process?

Yes, like "the city is under renovation".

If something is not visible because it's covered, is it "below" or "under"?

It's "under", like "keys are under the papers".

Can "under" indicate governance?

Yes, like "working under a supervisor".

In temperatures, which word indicates lower than a point?

"Below" is used, like "below freezing".

Is "below" used to indicate rank?

Yes, it can suggest inferiority in rank or status.

Which word can indicate being affected by a particular influence?

"Under", as in "she's under pressure".

If a plane flies lower than clouds but not touching them, is it below or under?

The plane is "below" the clouds.

Which word is used for positions on a vertical plane?

"Below" is used for positions on a vertical plane.

Which word suggests direct concealment?

"Under" suggests direct concealment or coverage by something else.

Is "below" used for positions on a scale?

Yes, like "10 meters below the surface".

Can "under" suggest a specific timeframe?

Yes, like "finished in under 5 minutes".
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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