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Below or Bellow? What’s the Difference?

Today we have a noisy and active entry into our ever-growing list of commonly confused words in the English language: learning whether to use below or bellow in a sentence! Despite being only one letter different (that “L”), these two words are pronounced differently (meaning they are NOT homophones), and have markedly different definitions.

Before we dive into the lesson, let me give you some background about my credentials. My name is Lillie, and I’ve been an English teacher for nearly twenty years. I’m also an artist, so I hand-draw each and every one of the illustrations here (and in other articles, like “Loose vs. Lose“). Time for the tutorial!

Below or bellow
Below or bellow — what’s the difference?

Bellow Definition and Meaning

Let’s start with the double-L word: “bellow.” (Our “Dessert vs. Desert” lesson has a similar pattern of single vs. double middle letters.) The two definitions of bellow are: To loudly roar or yell (this version is a verb), OR the sound of a loud roar or yell (this version is a noun).

Note that there is also a contraption called a “bellows” which is used to pump air onto a fire to make it burn hotter. This is related to the main definition of “bellow,” to yell, because in order to make a loud sound, we contract our lungs to push air out of them.

Pronounce Bellow

To pronounce the word bellow, say: BELL-oh, with the emphasis on the first syllable. Notice that the first half of the word is “bell,” which can help you remember every time that the meaning is about sound, since a ringing bell makes noise.

Examples of “Bellow” in Sentences

Here are some examples of “bellow” in a sentence:

• Whenever the English teacher saw a student write “incase” instead of “in case,” she bellowed, “INCORRECT SPELLING!”

• When the lion stepped on a stalactites on the ground of the cave, he began bellowing such a loud roar of pain that all of the other animals sprinted away in fear.

Bellow vs. below
Bellow vs. below, illustrated.

Below Definition and Meaning

Now let’s move on to the single-L word of our spelling dilemma, “below.” The easiest definition of below is: underneath, or at a lower level than something else. It can either be a preposition or an adverb.

Pronounce Below

Unlike bellow, below is pronounced: bee-LOW, with the emphasis on the second syllable. You can definitely remember the meaning of this word because it’s literally spelling it out for you: “be low” — be at a lower level than something else!

Example Sentences with “Below”

• I hung up my “Fiction vs. Nonfiction” poster below the reading chart in my library.

• It’s so cold outside, it feels like forty degrees below zero!

• The cute bat flew into the cave below.

Below or Bellow?

Now you know the difference in the below or bellow quandary: Below means to “be lower” than something else, and is pronounced “be-LOW.” Bellow means to roar or yell, and is pronounced “BELL-oh.” Feel free to say, “Thanks for the heads up about this difference, Ms. Marshall!”

VIDEO: Bellow vs. Below, Explained by Art

See a time lapse video of my art process.

Below or Bellow, in Sum

I hope this English lesson has been useful as well as enjoyable. If you want more about commonly confused words, check out my lesson on “Infer vs. Imply,” and feel free to suggest any other ideas you would like me to illustrate and explain.