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I have seen sentences similar to the following:

(1) See the reference above.

(2) See the reference below.

And,

(3) See the above reference.

But not,

(4) See the below reference.

Are all these forms acceptable? Which is/are preferred in formal writing?

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I first began seeing "the below email" in emails from non-native speakers of English... but now I even see it coming from native speakers of the language in the UK. I can only conclude, from my experience and serial observation, that the former are influencing the semi-literate latter. –  user32199 Dec 13 '12 at 5:13
    
A prompt response I once received had just once sentence with a citation: "With reference to your above, please see my below." –  Kris Dec 13 '12 at 5:30
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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

There is not really any difference between reference above and above reference, but some publishers may prefer one or the other. Below reference will be rare, if it is found at all.

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On reading the page RegDwight ΒВB linked and dictionary entries for above and below, I have come to realise that above is listed as an adjective as well as a preposition (and adverb, too), but below is only a preposition (and adverb), so only (1), (2) and (3) are correct.

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Presumably "See the reference above/below." is short for "See the reference above/below this statement." i.e. using "above"/"below" as prepositions. –  Gnubie Jul 11 '12 at 14:01
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I'd argue that 'i.e. using "above"/"below" as prepositions' should read 'i.e. is a shortened form of a fuller expression using "above"/"below" as prepositions'. Reams have been written on 'intransitive prepositions', and in my opinion, they're a lumping too far (see stl.recherche.univ-lille3.fr/sitespersonnels/cappelle/… for a strong argument about classifying words as 'intransitive prepositions'). –  Edwin Ashworth Apr 10 '13 at 10:34
    
@EdwinAshworth How 'bout turning it around though? - prepositions are transitive adverbs. –  StoneyB Apr 30 '13 at 22:43
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protected by RegDwigнt Dec 13 '12 at 9:49

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