We use “between” and “among” as a preposition. But when it comes to using them in a sentence, they deliver the meaning in a different way. Anyhow, their uses are quite similar, and while speaking and writing people tend to use them inaccurately.
If we are talking about their individual meaning, “Between” is a preposition that can be used to express various different meanings. It can indicate to be in the same place by separating two or more things.
It also generates the meaning of an abstract “space” or connection between two to more things or people. “The boy had to choose a laptop between Lenovo, Acer, and Hp brand because these electronics are individual things.”
When in a sentence more than two objects or persons are involved and we need to choose from several options than as a preposition “among” can be used. Another meaning of using “among” is that this preposition can be used when there is an extensive option as a mass or collectivity.
‘He wanted to purchase perfume among those popular three trendy brands.’
Between vs Among
The main difference between Between and Among is that “Between” is used to differentiate two things and it can also be used for something which is in the middle of something, while among is used to describe that someone is part of a group. Examples: Between – You have to choose between Ray and Cooper. Among – David shared his notes among his friends.
Comparison Table Between “Between” and “Among”
|Parameter of Comparison||Between||Among|
|Definition||In the case of having a choice that involves distinct and individual things or places, “between” is the preposition that can be used.||In the case of having a choice that involves a large group of things or people, “among” is the preposition that can be used.|
|Time||To indicate the things that happened in the middle of two or more distinctive people or things, between is used.||To indicate the things that happened in the middle of more than two or a bunch of non-distinctive people, and things, among is used.|
|Usage||Between can be used when we talk about two or more individuals, things, or items.||Among can be used when we talk about more than two individuals, things, or items, and they are non-distinctive.|
|What they imply?||The preposition “between” implies a real or figurative location somewhere in the middle relative to two or more points on either side.||The preposition “among” implies a position somewhere within a group larger than two or more.|
|Example||They have been feeling the chemistry between them for a long time.||We are not among those people whose first instinct is to judge.|
When to Use the Word “Between”?
When there is a comparison that supposed to happen in the middle of two or more things, then it requires the preposition “between”. “In this semester you can only choose one course between finance, accounting, and marketing.”
There is a common and wrong miss belief that has been going on for a long time, that between should be used only when there are two elements or people, and when there are more than two objects, “among” should be used.
It is only a myth, or we can say it is more like an understatement. We can definitely use between when there are more than two objects involved. We are capable of using between for any number of elements, as long as all the things are isolated and distinct.
Here is an example- “He had to pick between a play station, a sound system for his room, a pair of sneakers, and a new bicycle as his birthday was near.”
When to Use the Word “Among”?
In general, “among” is applied in a sentence of collective arrangements. We use “among” to say that something or someone is in the middle of a group of things or people. Either it is a part of a group or it is surrounded by something.
“There was not much agreement among the group of politicians”, it is another example for us to think about. Here, among is indicating that something belongs to a certain group.
When we refer to any spatial relationships, “among” shows us that something is surrounded by something else. “Davina always liked to practice magic among other witches.”
Here we can say, “among” is being used for undefined or unspecified relationships, oftentimes between groups. These are neither disconnected nor specified individuals.
When it comes to indicating a direction, “among” also tends to deliver various meanings. Regarding that, follow the example below- “His wallet fell among the mess.”
The sentence expresses the idea that the boy’s wallet fell among a pile of mess and somewhere in the midst of them he may find his wallet.
Main Differences Between “Between” vs “Among“
- To divide things up “among” and “between” both can be used in a sentence. Usually, we can use “among” when we are talking about dividing a group of things and giving them to three or more people, but if there are only two persons or elements it is best to use “between” in a sentence.
- “Between” is used to refer to the position in the middle of two or more individuals or objects. And among is used to refer the position of being surrounded by or in the middle of something.
- “Between” is used with two, but plenty of times more than two separate and distinct things. And we use “among” to describe the idea of being in a group or in the middle of a group.
- In a sentence “between” is followed by distinct and separate two or more objects. On the other hand, “among” tend to followed by a plural noun.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About “Between” vs “Among”
Which is correct Among or Amongst?
Both ‘Among’ and ‘Amongst’ are correct and they have the same meaning. Even though both the words are interchangeable and grammatically correct, the word ‘Among’ is more commonly used for written and oral communication.
This is because, as per American English, the word ‘Amongst’ is considered as a dramatic and outdated version of ‘Among.’
Is Among singular or plural?
Among is a preposition and cannot be classified as plural or singular. However, it is used for expressing the relationship between a singular or plural noun and verb to a set, group, or a collective noun in the sentence.
In short, ‘Among’ is used for explaining things related to plural objects. For example, ‘During the daytime, insects tend to hide among the leaves and the flowers.’
Can Among be used for two?
The word ‘Among’ is generally used for referring to three or more items and the word ‘Between’ is used for two items. These two items could be a verb or a noun.
For example, ‘The property was divided between Nancy and her brother.’
However, the word ‘Between’ can also be used for referring to two or more items. For example, ‘After selection, the athletes had to choose between 400m, 800m, and 1000m races.’
Where can I use ‘Between’ and ‘Among’?
‘Between’ can be used when you need to highlight the difference or space between two nouns or verbs. Also, ‘Between’ is used for items that are specifically named. For example, ‘There was a narrow lane between the college building and the hostel.’
‘Among’ is used for expressing the connection of a noun or verb to a group, a collective noun, or a set of plural objects. It is used for referring to unnamed objects. For example, ‘The hunter tried to hide among the trees.’
Can I use Between for more than two?
Yes, you can use ‘Between’ for more than two if the names of the items are specifically mentioned. You cannot use ‘Between’ to relate two or more unspecified objects, groups, or a collective set of items.
Here is an example of how ‘Between’ is used for more than two: ‘The conference was organized to initiate new trade relations between India, China, and Nepal.’
Those who are the students of English might face this difficulty understanding the difference between the words between and among.
As we know both words are prepositions, and naturally, they are used to talk about the relationship between people and elements, and the space or place around them.
Though these two words may seem kind of similar bet they are not the same as we discussed above. It is necessary to know and learn the difference because native English speakers never get confused between these two words.
To master the art of understanding when to use each one is an important skill that will take anyone’s English to the next level.