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Assume a game where armies fight against each other. There are five factions A, B, C, D, and E. Let faction B ask faction A "Where are their armies?" (the armies of the allied factions C, D and E).

Would saying "there man, under ground" be correct to imply that faction A has already beaten their armies?

  • I'm not sure what man refers to in your quote. You could be trying to say, Their men are underground (in which case you are using the wrong there), or you could be using man as an exclamation: There, man, under ground, in which case you really need a comma after the word there, and underground should be one word). – J.R. Nov 2 '15 at 9:43
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You are using 'under' and 'ground' as two different words. They do exist but then you need the definite article 'the'. So, it could be 'under the ground'.

Now, 'underground' is also a word (single) which means under the surface of the ground.

Whether 'beaten' is considered as 'defeating and killing' both, you need to say that they are 'under the ground buried'. Without the article and explaining what exactly you want to say, 'under ground' will be considered 'underground', and listeners may consider that you are talking about the army which is under the ground -in some bunker!

  • I think the ngram is interesting. Nowadays, under ground is almost always compounded, but, apparently, it wasn't that way 150 years ago. (Most of the modern hits for under ground in that ngram are actually quotes from 19th-century works.) – J.R. Nov 2 '15 at 9:43
  • Nice idea. The setting of the game are the middle ages. – daniel451 Nov 2 '15 at 9:47
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    I think Their men are underground could be used as a euphemism for Their armies are defeated, although, as Maulik says, there is plenty of room for confusion, too. It's not a standard idiom, and it could mean they are hiding in a cave or a tunnel. Also, you could separate underground into two words in light of the fact that underground is a relatively recent word, but I'd be careful with that. Unless the rest of thy game useth antiquated English, gamers are likely to reckon that as a typo, not a clever hearkening back to days of yore. – J.R. Nov 2 '15 at 9:54
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    You could say they're "in the ground", which makes it clearer that you're saying they're dead in a dramatic way, without the other possible meanings of "underground" (literally underground or just gone into hiding). – Samthere Nov 2 '15 at 11:14

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