‘Bellow' or 'Below': What's the Difference?

By Carly Forsaith, updated on February 9, 2023

'Bellow' or 'below': which one should you use? They look very similar, so are they two different spellings of the same word, or do they mean different things?

In short, the answer is that these are two different words with different meanings. 'Bellow' is the loud roaring of an animal, while 'below' refers to a position in space.

What's the Difference Between 'Bellow' or 'Below'?

The two words are often confused because they look similar, so it's easy to misspell them. But as you're about to discover, not only do they have different meanings and are different parts of speech, but they're also pronounced differently.

'Bellow' Definition

'Bellow' is a noun that refers to the loud roaring sound of an animal. It's also sometimes used to talk about a loud sound someone or something makes, probably because it resembles an animal's bellow.

A bellow could be heard from the forest.

It can also be a verb with the same root meaning, and it only describes the action instead of the sound.

The bull bellowed mightily.

'Below' Definition

'Below' is an adverb or preposition most often used to describe your location or that of an object, thing, animal, or place. To be 'below' something indicates that you are under it or lower than it. For example:

My apartment is in a basement below the restaurant.

But you can also use it to compare numbers or ranks, such as when you say:

Your height must be 1 meter or below to enjoy this ride.

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Bellow'

The double 'l' in 'bellow' modifies the 'e' sound that precedes it. This makes the pronunciation difference between the two words. Here, the 'e' is pronounced the same as the 'e' in 'bed.'

The whole word sounds like this:

[ bel-oh ]

And if you're a word nerd like me, you might want to know how the International Phonetics Alphabet spells it. It goes like this:

/ ˈbɛl oʊ /

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Below'

The word 'below' only has one 'l,' changing how the 'e' is pronounced. Here, it sounds more like an 'i', like in 'willow.'

The whole word sounds like this:

[ bih-loh ]

And the International Phonetics Alphabet makes it out like this:

/ bɪˈloʊ /

When to Use 'Bellow' or 'Below'

Hopefully, you're now clearer on the meaning of each word, but to consolidate that, we'll look at some example sentences of the words used in context. We'll start with 'bellow.'

Example Sentences of 'Bellow'

The sound of the hippos bellowing is sure to startle you.

The dog barks, and the bison bellows.

I was lying in bed, slowly drifting into sleep, when the loud bellow of the storm awoke me.

Example Sentences of 'Below'

I'm grateful for the sunshine today; the temperature was below zero yesterday.

We sat at the top of the observation wheel, admiring the city below us.

She has a highly efficient team working below her.

Concluding Thoughts on 'Bellow' or 'Below'

That concludes this article on the difference between 'bellow' and 'below.'

Here's what you need to remember:

  • 'Below' is an adverb or preposition
  • It refers to a point that is beneath another
  • 'Bellow' is a noun or verb
  • It indicates an animal's roar or loud sound

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn about more confusing words, check out our blog for even more articles like this.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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