It's ok to say "the above image" but not "the below image"

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Frequently, when editing/reviewing SE posts, I see the following:

as you can see in the below image.

Now, to me, below image, just sounds wrong and I reverse the order, changing it to:

as you can see in the image below.

However, in my own posts, I will often write:

as the above image shows

en lieu of

as you can see in the image above

because it sounds, to me, to be a bit more in keeping with formal documentation. The phrase ... image above is, obviously, correct also, and sounds fine, just not so technical.

TL;DR

  • Why does above image sound ok, but below image does not?
  • Am I wrong, and the only one who thinks this sounds odd?
  • Why isn't the antonym of above (which is an adjective), not an adjective itself? It seems rather asymmetrical.

Update:

I hadn't realised that this had already been asked on SE ELU: Which is correct: “the below information” or “the information below”?. I should have checked, apologies

Greenonline

Posted 2017-06-13T07:21:56.003

Reputation: 1 058

1If 'above image' is correct, then 'below image' is correct too. – satnam – 2017-06-13T07:35:50.673

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Found a good discussion on the same topic here...https://www.dailywritingtips.com/below-is-not-an-attributive-adjective/

– satnam – 2017-06-13T07:36:11.893

@satnam - your excellent link contradicts your former statement... could you elaborate why you think below image is correct, please? You should definitely include the link, and its salient points, in an answer. I have never heard any native speaker say below image in 50 years, in England. Maybe it is more common in the US? – Greenonline – 2017-06-13T07:39:53.057

2"the below image" is wrong since "below", as opposed to "above", is not an adjective. – Cardinal – 2017-06-13T08:14:49.817

@Cardinal - thanks... However, (and this could be another question, granted) why isn't the antonym of above (which is an adjective), not an adjective itself. It seems rather asymmetrical. – Greenonline – 2017-06-13T08:35:30.360

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@Cardinal are you sure? See nohat's answer

– user178049 – 2017-06-13T09:12:22.823

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@user178049 My reference is the dictionary(ies). e.g., http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/below

and also this one:

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/below

– Cardinal – 2017-06-13T09:29:25.273

1@Cardinal I don't agree with Cambridge either. There are more than 3k examples for below [*n] in COCA. Well, that is a small number; but it exists! – user178049 – 2017-06-13T09:34:38.637

@user178049 - See Ngram. [*n] below is way more common.

– Greenonline – 2017-06-13T09:39:01.293

1@Greenonline I deleted my lazily wirtten answer. I hate reading it and I don't think I will have time to make it better. I hope the post on ELU is helpful. – user178049 – 2017-06-13T13:57:58.433

"Below image" isn't any more wrong than "above image", but both are clunky. They read better as "image above" and "image below". – fixer1234 – 2017-06-13T17:27:25.600

Answers

1

The below image and the above image are writing conventions used to refer to a figure in terms of its relative position in the text.

In the three-dimensional world of things, we say

Noise was coming from the apartment above.

You can put that book on the shelf below.

P.S. I suppose above and below would be so-called "small clauses" here.

Tᴚoɯɐuo

Posted 2017-06-13T07:21:56.003

Reputation: 116 610

I believe that you may have missed my point. I am not talking about spoken English, per se. As a technical writer, I would use the above image, but I would never use the below image. I would say it, however, if I was reviewing a technical document with a peer, face-to-face. – Greenonline – 2017-06-13T15:32:30.817

That's just a stylistic preference, IMO. The below figure and the below diagram are quite well attested, even if "the below image" is not. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2017-06-13T15:51:06.940