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I frequently see statements that refer to something later in the text that use a phrase such as "the below information". Is it more correct instead to say "the information below" (or "the following information")?

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I would assume you also find "the above figure" to be a problem? I personally correct authors constantly in using these terms as adjectives. –  way0utwest Dec 10 '10 at 16:11
    
@way0utwest: Yes, I prefer "The frame around my name in the question above is ornate." rather than "the above question." –  Dennis Williamson Dec 10 '10 at 16:18
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When someone writes "the below information", I surmise that their native language is not English. –  GEdgar Nov 17 '11 at 2:50

6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted

As a preposition, "below" would be written after "information" as a stranded preposition. While typically prepositions would precede the noun, stranded prepositions can occur "in interrogative or relative clauses, where the interrogative or relative pronoun that is the preposition's complement is moved to the start".

We see such a stranded preposition in the case of "the information below," and therefore the preposition follows it. By contrast, in the case of "the following information", an adjective is used to describe the noun and therefore may precede it.

In short, "the below information" is not generally accepted to be correct, because "below" is not universally acknowledged as an adjective. Nevertheless, some dictionaries specifically list this as an exception.

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This answer is incorrect. Just as "the following paragraph" is correct, the "the below information" is also correct. –  RiMMER Nov 16 '11 at 12:39
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Instead of repeating your opinion, a more constructive contribution to this discussion would be demonstrating that "below" is acknowledged as an adjective. –  Paul Lammertsma Nov 16 '11 at 16:23
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My answer is based upon the fact that Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, Collins English Dictionary and Wiktionary all only list "below" as a preposition and an adverb. I don't see the need to get so upset about this. –  Paul Lammertsma Nov 16 '11 at 22:24
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Two points:1- you say "prepositions follow the noun". That is opposite of most understandings of the words in that statement. 2-adjectives can sometimes be placed after what it modifies - 'attorney general'. –  Mitch Nov 16 '11 at 23:31
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Prepositions, by their very nature and definition, never follow the noun they modify. ‘Below’ is an adverb in the information below. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 25 '13 at 10:53

Merriam-Webster lists a relevant definition:

below (adjective): written or discussed lower on the same page or on a following page

Given this, there is nothing wrong with “the below information”.

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I hadn't considered that it could be an adjective. Random House doesn't list it; perhaps this is where the confusion comes from? –  Paul Lammertsma Aug 13 '10 at 1:09
    
It is at least much less widely used as an adjective than as an adverb. –  F'x Feb 22 '11 at 14:42
    
I want 'below' to be used as an adjective, but I think it is not generally accepted ('bad form'), buit the position is still in question; one can have adjectives (rarely) come after the noun. But I feel that this particular 'below' is more adverbial. The M-W definition doesn't give an example and OED doesn't list an adjectival entry. The related OED entry fro 'beneath' gives the adjective as 'rare' (with a Shakespeare quote). A newspaper editor would fire a writer who tried to use "the below information", whatever ones justification might be. –  Mitch Nov 16 '11 at 16:35
    
@Mitch: I don't like the sound of it myself, but I think that it is becoming / will become more common / acceptable. I don't like the quote verb 'be like', but I'm resigned to its use. That the usage is cited in M-W surely 'legalises' it - absences from other respected dictionaries are not final proofs. Notice that M-W only licenses the domain of written / printed materials. –  Edwin Ashworth Apr 10 '13 at 11:08

An Ngram reveals which is more common...

the below information

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+1: And adding to the Ngram "the information above" and "the above information" shows that while "above" can go both before and after the noun, "below" can only go after. –  Peter Shor Nov 17 '11 at 3:33

"He lives on the below floor" or "He lives on the floor below"? -- If not grammar, at least usage is against the first mentioned way of saying it.

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The MW sense for the attributive-position adjective (below {adjective}: written or discussed lower on the same page or on a following page) does not sanction domains outside the written / printed page, I'd guess in line with usage. –  Edwin Ashworth Apr 10 '13 at 11:02

The fact that the dictionary lists the word 'below' as an adjective doesn't mean it's correct. Dictionaries are a reflection of usage, both correct and incorrect. The reason that the word 'below' may be listed as an adjective reflects the overwhealming incorrect usage of the word. To make proper use of a language, one shoud use forms that have always been deemed correct and not use incorrect forms that have become the norm. Why 'dumb down' our language?

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This ‘answer’ shows a staggering lack of knowledge of how language actually works. There is no such thing as “forms that have always been deemed correct”. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 25 '13 at 10:51

Usage of the former is often seen in a corporate communication when the author wishes to add a degree of formality or authority to the explanation. For example, 'see data in the below table'. Ironic, really, as instead of adding gravitas it results in the author sounding generic and bland.

Personally, I think it sounds unnatural, and forced, as it is rarely used in speech. You'd never, for example, respond to a query as to where a physical item was in relation to another by saying it 'is on the below shelf'.

One of those phrases used in a corporate context that doesn't exist in real life.

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I have no recollection of having seen the first usage. The second is common in written communication. –  medica Jan 24 at 8:41

protected by tchrist Aug 13 at 14:34

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