I used to think that only Hong Kong people would say ‘the below information’, ‘the below form’, etc. (as opposed to ‘the information below’, ‘the form below’), until I saw ‘the below reference request’ in an email from an organisation in Britain two days ago. I studied the remainder of the email, and it was in perfect English. Hence, I could only conclude that even Brits (or at least this one) are beginning to use ‘below’ as an attributive adjective. I then googled the ‘below-before-noun’ usage. The result? Some native speakers can accept it. The majority still frown on it.
Well, if we can say both ‘the information above’ and ‘the above information’, then by logic, there is no reason why we can’t say ‘the below reference request’. We don’t even have to refer to how dictionaries label the word class of ‘below’ (e.g., preposition, adverb), as the word class of a word can always be extended as a result of popular use.
For now, I can only say that expressions like ‘the below reference’, ‘the below information’, ‘the below form’, etc., still sound unnatural to me. And then the dilemma for ESL teachers who see something like that in their students’ writing is: To correct or not to correct. ..