Below or Bellow – How To Use Each Correctly
What’s the Difference Between Bellow and Below?
Bellow and below look and sound similar, yet not exactly the same, and the definitions of the two words have no overlap at all.
Below can be either a preposition or an adverb that means under.
- The cat sat below the tree and watched for birds.
Bellow can act as a noun or a verb that means to yell loudly and in a deep voice.
- The giant man bellowed angrily at the waitress who had spilled a drink on him.
Let’s look at how to use these words in context and how to avoid mixing the two up.
Using Below in a Sentence
When to use below: Below can act as either a preposition or adverb. It means in a lower place, often relative to something in a higher place.
- Many people visualize hell as being below heaven. (adjective)
- I looked up at the stars from down below. (adjective)
- The ship captain sent the passengers below deck during the storm. (adverb)
- Dive below the water to see many species of tropical fish. (adverb)
There are few common expressions that use below:
- to hit below the belt: not fair
- You shouldn’t make fun of people’s appearance. They can’t help how they look. That’s hitting below the belt.
- below average: worse than a typical person
- His parents hired a math tutor for him because his grades were below average.
- below someone: to be less than a person’s social rank deserves
- I would never take a job working in such a filthy area. It’s below me.
The last expression, below someone, is rude to use because it implies some people are better than others.
Using Bellow in a Sentence
When to use bellow: Bellow can be either a noun or a verb. Either way, it refers to a loud and deep shout.
A person usually bellows out of anger rather than fear or surprise. An animal can bellow too, although usually people use this word for a bull specifically.
- The bull bellowed in anger at the matador. (verb)
- The rich man tried to get his way by bellowing at the front desk attendant. (verb)
- The angry wrestler’s bellows could be heard in the back of the stadium. (noun)
- The warrior gave an enraged bellow as he attacked the soldier who had murdered his wife. (noun)
Bellow is pronounced to rhyme with yellow.
Bellow can also appear as a phrasal verb:
- to bellow out: to shout out words loudly
- The army general bellowed out his orders to the soldiers.
Bellow has a masculine connotation, so it is used much more often for men or male animals.
Remembering Below vs. Bellow
This spelling differences between bellow and below can act as a helpful mnemonic device.
Bellow contains the letters ell, just like the word yell, which has a similar meaning.
Alternatively, it is possible to separate below into the two words be and low. This is fitting, since for someone to be low, they are likely below something.
- MacLachlan greeted the audience with a loud “Hellooooo!” like the bellow of his on-screen Dougie Jones/Agent Dale Cooper character. –USA Today
- Girls bellow the lyrics to “Come Get Her” with a zeal that makes you wonder how carefully they’ve studied this song’s lyrics. –Chicago Tribune
- Amazon was anything but amazing on Thursday as it reported second-quarter earnings that came in 72 percent below expectations. –New York Post
- Room 64 at the Chateau Marmont is possibly the most Instagrammable spot in L.A. Its wrap-around terrace is suspended just below the homes built into the Hollywood Hills, tiny glass boxes that form their own constellation when night falls. –LA Times
Quiz: Below vs. Bellow
Instructions: Fill in the blank with the correct word, either below or bellow, in the correct form.
- You should speak quietly in the library and certainly never ____________.
- People think my father is an angry man because he always ______________ but in reality he is very kind underneath his gruff demeanor.
- Look at all this food ____________ the table! Doesn’t anyone ever clean under there?
- There’s something wrong with my car. I’m going to take a look _____________ the engine.
See answers below.
Should I use bellow or below? Despite having similar pronunciations, these two words are completely different and cannot be substituted for each other.
- Bellow describes a loud, deep, angry shout or sound.
- Below means under.
Below is much more common than bellow.