In office email communication, people constantly write "See the below attachment". However, I have a problem with this because I feel as though the word below should be placed after 'attachment' not before it, so as not to suggest it being a verb (e.g. See the blue attachment). Instead, I think, "See the attachment below," is much more accurate.

Can anyone provide the grammatical rules to indicate which is correct?

  • A lot of people don't care for this usage of below to mean following. A lot of other people use it. Not much you can do about any of that. You can, however, use whatever pleases you.
    – tchrist
    Mar 1, 2015 at 5:48
  • @tchrist I don't think one "can, however, use whatever" in all cases, no matter what.
    – Kris
    Mar 1, 2015 at 6:10
  • See the below attachment ... is this in India, by any chance? Or maybe Singapore?
    – GEdgar
    Mar 1, 2015 at 14:28
  • @GEdgar: No, it's in Georgia (USA), however, I've noticed Indians do tend to say it that way. Mar 1, 2015 at 14:42
  • It could be said : See the enclosed attachment.
    – Eilia
    May 15, 2015 at 13:26

2 Answers 2


The attachment is not "below" anything. There might be an icon embedded in the message that invokes (opens) the attached file. But the file is simply "attached"; it is not part of the message.

If there are two or more files attached, you can refer to them as the "first", "second", etc attachments.

  • But at the bottom of an email the attachments are clearly visible, in the sense they are below/under the message. I have a gmail address, and I can see what kind of attachments they are without opening them.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 1, 2015 at 14:29
  • 1
    It could easily be 'reference' or 'paragraph' instead of 'attachment,' if that helps. If one were to use a preposition in this scenario, which is most grammatically correct? Mar 1, 2015 at 14:46
  • @Mari-Lou A: It depends not only on which email client you use, but on which email client the sender uses. Some clients show an attachments line below the Subject line, but ABOVE the message. Mar 1, 2015 at 14:54
  • 1
    "below" is not a preposition in either sentence. It is either an adjective ("the below paragraph") or an adverb ("see the paragraph, below"). As to which is better? There's really not an iota of difference. Don't worry about it. However, if you wanted to clarify that it was the very next paragraph, you would say "the paragraph immediately below", not "the immediately below paragraph" Mar 1, 2015 at 15:00

Adjectival vs adverbial/participial use, which may or may not project the same intent.

  • Schrodinger, see the inside cat.
    Schrodinger, see the cat inside.

  • Watch the jumping cat.
    Watch the cat jumping.

  • Speak to the man upstairs.
    Speak to the upstairs man.

Adjectival vs adverbial use, which incidentally project the same intention.

  • adv'l: See the icon below. (below describes the action/verb see)
  • adj'l: See the below icon. (below describes the noun icon)
  • Thanks for putting terms to these. Though the intention of the author or even the phrase might be the same, I don't know that it constitutes correct grammar on both counts. Broken up, the adverbial makes sense throughout: See the, the icon, icon below. However the adjectival, apart from the initial 'See the,' doesn't seem to sound right, at least to me: See the, the below, below icon. 'The below' doesn't sound natural and 'below icon' doesn't sound correct unless preceded with an indefinite article like 'the.' It's different from 'above' which I feel can be used that way (above ground) Mar 1, 2015 at 14:55
  • "correct grammar" ? As I have often said, I have not been trained to use the phrases such as in "Is this correct grammar", or "Is this grammatical", because even pidgin English is "grammatical" and "correct" in its own grammatical conventions. The proper terms are "proper", "acceptable" or "normal" grammar/structure. Mar 1, 2015 at 18:10
  • In post-1980 English, the lesser we use commas the better. Commas and hyphens are for clarity. Therefore, could you provide proof and explanation why "Feed the cat upstairs" and "Feed the upstairs cat" are not "normal/acceptable/proper" English structure. Mar 1, 2015 at 18:16
  • "Correct grammar" to me implies grammar that is most widely accepted within that language's subsystem. This would obviously be different if comparing "formal" English and pidgin English even though they are both English, however, that isn't the point here. Mar 1, 2015 at 20:33
  • I don't see a need for commas in either case as I don't think it matters. (Something might be needed if one were distinguishing between the cat currently being fed but then needing to feed it elsewhere (upstairs) and an initial act of feeding the cat already upstairs.) The syntax or positioning of words, however, is practically how a language is built, which means that the same words don't always carry the same meaning when re-arranged. "You go out," and "You out go," don't quite agree. "Out you go," or even "Go you/ye out," would all make more sense than "You out go." Mar 1, 2015 at 20:46

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