What's the difference... between UNDER and BENEATH. and the difference between in, inside, out outside? Thank you
Feb 2, 2016 1:09 PM
Answers · 3
Both "under" and "beneath" are pretty similar, and there are some situations where they can be used interchangeably. For example, you can tell someone that the thing they are looking for is under the stairs or beneath the stairs, and that wouldn't sound strange. When I think about this, "beneath" just feels like an older word that is mostly used in specific situations, and in other situations it just sounds weird. If someone wants to say that Tom thinks he is better than Jim, you could say that Tom thinks Jim is beneath him. If you said Tom thinks Jim is under him, that would sound like Tom thinks he is Jim's boss. But if I asked you where the trash can was, and you told me it was beneath the sink, that would sound strange. It wouldn't be incorrect, but would just sound weird. The more I think about it, the more "beneath" feels like a poetic word. The more I use it in my head, the more it feels like I would only use it when writing a novel or an important piece of journalism. I feel like it's very rarely used in everyday speech.
February 2, 2016
With "in"/"inside" and "out"/"outside", these are really difficult. I'm sitting here thinking about how to answer, and I can come up with so many examples where each pair can be used interchangeably, but also many examples where they can't. Maybe the best I can do is give some of those examples. An object can be in the house, or inside the house, or out of the box, or outside of the box. You can be in your own head or inside your own head [meaning you're thinking really deeply and you don't notice things happening around you]. You can be out of the group and outside of the group. You can get in the bed, but not inside the bed. You can get in trouble or out of trouble, but not inside trouble or outside of trouble. You can get in a rage, but not inside a rage. You can run out of bounds [like in sports], but not outside of bounds. You can be on in a million, but you can't be one inside a million. You can be out on the town [meaning you are running around town and enjoying many activities], but you can't be outside on the town. I could keep coming up with examples, but I can't see an obvious pattern. It feels highly contextual to me. It might be one of those things where you have to practice by listening to English-speakers and just copy how they say them.
February 2, 2016
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