Between vs. Among

By Maeve Maddox - 1 minute read

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The preposition between is from an Old English word related to the word two. It denotes a position between two things:

The guard stood between the door and the street.

Just between you and me, I’m surprised that a graduate of Yale wouldn’t speak better English.

The preposition among derives from an Old English word meaning to mix or to mingle.
Use among when speaking about more than two things:

We wandered among the poppies, looking for the road to Oz.

Let’s keep this information among ourselves.

A common error is to use between where among is more appropriate:

I was one of eight brothers. Our parents never made any difference between us.

Better: Our parents never made any difference among us.

Here are some quotations from newspapers:

… storefronts in downtown Robersonville in North Carolina, one of 26 states where deaths now outnumber births among white people. … (www.nytimes.com)

Condom use is declining among sexually active teens, a federal survey found. … (www.nytimes.com)

sounded the alarm about the use of benzodiazepines among older adults. Often called “benzos,” the problem drugs include Valium (diazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), … (www.nytimes.com)

SEOUL, South Korea – A top lieutenant of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in the United States conducting one of three sets of parallel talks aimed at salvaging a summit between Kim and President Donald Trump. usatoday.com

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8 Responses to “Between vs. Among”

  • Sous Rature

    It’s a little subtler than that, actually given that one of the two “things” could actually be a plural–“I’m between the trees and the building.” Between-ness (sorry for the neologism) essentially implies placement on a line that passes through one distinct thing or group and one other distinct thing or group.

    Sorry to pick nits.

  • Roshawn

    “Our parents never made any difference among us.”

    Although grammatically correct, it still sounds…uh…wrong. But that’s just me.

  • Himangshu Dutta

    good

  • savita

    what about giving the difference between among and amongst here?

  • Maeve

    Savita,
    Good idea. I’ll address your question in another post.

  • mandy

    well really it is a nice topic and illustrations were good.
    i appreciate.

  • CC

    Roshawn on October 26, 2007 2:44 am

    “Our parents never made any difference among us.”

    Although grammatically correct, it still sounds…uh…wrong. But that’s just me.

    ============

    i think that the reason it sounds weird is because when we hear “among us” we picture a whole group of “us”, which is grammatically correct. But, when we read “between us”, we actually hear “Our parents never made any difference between “each of” us. And when we compare ourselves to others, we usually/normally (psychologically) do it with one other person at a time in our minds. Just my thought…

  • Elena

    thanks!

    this article helped me a lot, I am learning English and I could not understand the difference of these tow words.

    thanks again

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