The Case of Confusing Prepositions in English Language

What is the difference among under, below, beneath and underneath

All the 4 words are used to refer to things that are at the lower level or rank in relation to the other thing. 

Under mostly refers to things physically covered by another thing. We also use it for age measurement. 

We sat under the stars throughout the night.

Below may refer to things not necessarily ‘physically’ covered by another thing. We use it in lower rank/power, and temperature and height measurements. 

The temperature suddenly dropped below 10° Celsius last week.

Beneath can formally replace under, however, it is also used to indicate lower worth or quality.

It is beneath me to apologise when I am not at fault. 

Underneath refers to things completely covered from one end to the other by another thing. 

She saw a kitten sleeping underneath her car. 


What is the difference between over and above?

Both over and above are used to refer to things that are at the higher level or rank in relation to the other thing.

Over refers to a thing that completely covers another thing from one end to the other. 

The bridge is over the river.

Above refers to a thing that is placed at a higher level, not covering the other thing from one end to the other.

The fan is above the bed.


What is the difference between through and across?

Across refers to movement from one side to the other in an open space. 

He swam across the river.

Some more examples:

  • She is sitting across the table.
  • He ran across the street to greet me.
  • McDonald’s has opened outlets across the city.

Through refers to movement from one side to the other in a closed space. 

The train passed through the tunnel. 

Some more examples:

  • The water ran through the pipe. 
  • She flipped through the pages of the book. 
  • She looked outside through the keyhole.

What is the difference between between and among?

Between is used to refer to two things which are clearly separated.

They lived in Australia between 2012 and 2018.

Among is used when referring to indistinct or nonspecific relationships.

They wanted to be among their friends.


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