5

I used “the below” in a previous answer I wrote and a fellow member of this Q&A site, tchrist ♦, changed it to not include the below.

Fifthly (or any final thing in the list) would be interchangeable with Finally in the below example.

You could use semicolons or comma-separated lists. The below example uses semicolons:

Why can’t I use “the below”?

  • 4
    "In the example given below" – Darshan Chaudhary Oct 23 '16 at 3:49
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    I'm wondering if this might be an Indian English expression - using below as an adjective. I see this quite often in technical communication with Indian colleagues. For AmE, at least, it is not usual/normal. – Drew Oct 23 '16 at 4:49
  • Related and probable duplicates modulo the meta aspect: english.stackexchange.com/q/609 english.stackexchange.com/q/172709 english.stackexchange.com/q/74182 and so on and so forth. – tchrist Oct 23 '16 at 5:08
  • The phrase is certainly used in that sense, and understood -- I only see it rarely, but wouldn't call it at all "unfamiliar". Interesting to note that few people would argue with using "the above", but somehow they get their shorts in a knot when you say "the below". – Hot Licks Oct 23 '16 at 12:33
  • @HotLicks Long ago, I saw an objection to "the above" along the lines of "it's just as wrong as 'the below.'" A few years later, I started seeing "the below". – Andreas Blass Jun 11 '17 at 23:31
5

Adjectiving below is not always well received.

As I’ve written before, it’s because the below whatever is nearly always better written the following whatever or quite simply this whatever. It sounds foreign otherwise; it is rarely if ever used by native speakers, as native Englander Barrie England observes.

Courtesy of Darshan Chaudhary in a before comment on the original post, a nice alternative is to instead use in the example given below. Because that now uses below as a traditional adverb, it sounds just fine.

Using Syntactic Tests for Adjectives

You’ll find that below makes for a highly suspect adjective, because attempting to use it as one would use other adjectives readily produces sentences that are ungrammatical. We can use syntactic tests employing substitution of below for normal adjectives to see that it is not of their category.

Here are a couple of easy demonstrations:

  1. How many illustrative examples were you considering?
    *How many below examples were you considering? [ungrammatical]

  2. Please include a more illustrative example.
    *Please include a more below example. [ungrammatical]

  3. This big red firetruck shows its age.
    *This big below firetruck shows its age. [ungrammatical]
    *This below red firetruck shows its age. [ungrammatical]

Given that we cannot swap below in for other adjectives in the sentences shown above, it doesn’t really feel like much of an adjective at all. That’s why it feels odd to attempt to use it in places where only adjectives go in a noun phrase such as in the examples you provided.

  • I think I like 'a before comment' even less! – marcellothearcane Jul 8 '17 at 17:29
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"The example below" is more common. If you replace "below" with "above" then both orders are very common. Still, I recommend "the example below," which sounds a bit more natural.
The primary reason someone would take 'offence' to 'the below example' is mainly because 'below' is a preposition or adverb, and using it in an instance like 'the below example' is setting it up to sound like an adjective, it isn't grammatically incorrect, but it is not considered fluent usage.

5

The only reason is because it sounds terrible to most native speakers of American English and British English. We don't use the word that way.

You can say it. Countless non-native speakers do. And they probably do so by analogy to the above, which represents a logical thinking process. However, as little as one generation ago the above was not acceptable to most usage panels of respected dictionaries. Today, however most usage panels accept, if not unanimously, the above. It's probably a matter of time, like if in one or two generations 2 billion native speakers in Asia still say the below. There are, after all, different Englishes. However, for now, just note that most native speakers of American English and British English do not use the below example and for many its usage is worse than hearing the screech of fingernails across a blackboard. This should teach you that what is grammatical is determined by speakers, and that that is often determined by what sounds okay, or not.

  • 1
    Countless native speakers use it too. It's non-standard but is much more common nowadays – Mitch Jun 11 '17 at 17:40
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    @Mitch is there a demographic or other profile of native speakers who say this? Because I must not hang around with those guys. – Arm the good guys in America Jun 11 '17 at 22:43
  • @Clare I was thinking exactly the same thing. – tchrist Jun 12 '17 at 0:08
  • @Clare Yes, I exaggerate immensely (just google ngrams for 'the below example') as to number but I find just as many native as non-native writers in those examples. – Mitch Jun 12 '17 at 2:06

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