306.  What is the difference between the two prepositions, under and beneath?

ANSWER:

Thank you for a wonderful question.  
 
The answer is very complex.
 
If you have the opportunity to visit some of the great University Research Libraries, like the UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) Research Library, you will find volume upon volume and treatise upon treatise on the subject of English Prepositions.   There are entire sections of the UCLA Research Library --hundreds of studies, dissertations, monographs, treatises, entire collections of books-- exclusively dedicated to investigating the meaning of a single preposition!!!  
 
For the English Language, in particular, prepositions have become integral parts of verb phrases, and a single verb form, in combination with many different prepositions, generates hundreds of different meanings for the "verb form + preposition" phrase.   For example: LOOK --a single verb form-- can be combined with many different prepositions to generate many different kinds of meanings:
look up
look into
look over
look through
look ahead
look down
look out
look beyond,
look after
look around, etc.
 
So, the concept of "Preposition," in English particularly, needs to be considered differently than in other languages.   Latin had no prepositions per se and the ending of nouns, for example, showed the relationship today expressed by prepositions in Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, and other "Romance" languages.  
 
Now, what are the BASIC meanings of prepositions?   Prepositions indicate, among many different possibilities, spatial relationships, time relationships, rank relationships, etc.   So there are literally HUNDREDS of possible meanings for prepositions even within these BASIC "relationships" meanings of prepositions.   In English you have:  "in, on, over, above, up," and the opposite spatial directions "down, below, beneath, underneath, under."    In Spanish we have a similar set of prepositions:  "en, dentro, sobre, arriba, encima, debajo, bajo, abajo,"
 
Native speakers encounter literally thousands of VISUAL examples of these spatial relationships as they SEE (Observe "reality") / HEAR / ACQUIRE / LEARN their native language.    The brain begins to sort out the meaning of each VISUAL EXAMPLE and AURAL STIMULUS, observing the type of objects involved in the spatial relationship, the position of each object in the spatial relationship, the horizontal or vertical axis of orientation of the spatial relationship, etc.   On the basis of thousands of exposures to literally thousands of VISUAL spatial relationships + AURAL STIMULI, the brain absorbs the critical features that determine the ORAL use of the "correct" preposition in other VISUAL examples of spatial relationships that the SPEAKER wishes to express.   
 
Then, of course, additional OBSERVATIONS are made of TIME relationships (Example: "in an hour"), RANK relationships (Example: "under his authority'), and many other ABSTRACT uses of relationships which may be encountered in conversations or in readings (Example: "doing that is beneath me").   
 
So, to answer your question: "What is the difference between UNDER and BENEATH?    The answer cannot be given with ONE single definition for each preposition or one single answer, but with literally HUNDREDS of definitions since both UNDER and BENEATH represent all kinds of relationships:   spatial, time, rank, abstract, etc.   
 
One of the most effective and BEST ways to learn prepositions in English is to LOOK at pictures, especially pictures that are described in words, and begin to get a sense of the meanings, the hundreds of meanings, of UNDER and BENEATH.    Through readings you will find many MORE meanings of UNDER and BENEATH.   There is NO ONE SINGLE answer!!!!!!  
 
And that is my answer to your question!!!!!!!  

 

 

 

 

 


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