Confused Words: BETWEEN and AMONG

In this blog post, we will be discussing the difference between the two commonly confused words: between and among. These words are synonymous and they are both prepositions. The point is that they are often confused not only by English learners but also by native English speakers. 

Some English teachers teach us to use between for two people or things and among for more than two. 

For example:

  • The inheritance was divided between her two children.
  • Between World War I and World War II the country was divided into many provinces.
  • Despite the strong wind, Peter and Samantha were walking among the trees.
  • A lot of effort has been made to make peace among the peoples of the Balkans, especially after the war.

Confused words: between and among

However, things are not that simple. The real difference between the two prepositions is that between is used to indicate the difference between people or things taken individually while among refers to things taken as a group.

For example:

  • There isn’t much difference between English, German and Dutch because they belong to the same family of languages. (Here we use between to compare three things mentioned individually).
  • Our house is between the woods, the brook and the village road.
  • They shared the profit between the five of them.
  • Among all candidates who applied for the position, there are just a few who satisfy our needs. (Among here refers to people taken as a group, not individuals.)
  • Peter has always felt so safe and sound among his friends and family.
  • I’m sure you’ll find the old photo albums among the books in the library.
 Confused Words: BETWEEN and AMONG
Confused Words: BETWEEN and AMONG

How to use “between” in a sentence

Connection/link between

  • The connection between the two criminal offences was obvious.
  • There is a strong link between the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Health.

Difference/distinction between

  • There was a large difference between the two brothers both physically and mentally.

Confused words: between and among

Parallel between

  • The professor tried to draw a parallel between the two cases.

Contrast/similarity between

  • John drew a contrast between Eurosong Contest now and in the past century.
  • Lara noticed a distinct similarity between Sara and her sister, though.

Between you and me

The phrase is calling for discretion.

  • Just between you and me, I think they’re going to get divorced, because they’ve been arguing too much lately.

In between

  • If you want to lose weight, try to avoid binge eating in between meals.
 Confused Words: BETWEEN and AMONG
Confused Words: BETWEEN and AMONG

How to use “among” in a sentence

Among friends

  • This is a good way to improve and maintain the relationship among friends and relatives.

Among other things

In this context, among means ‘as well as’.

  • Among other things, the presidents of the two countries discussed their environmental plans.

Among ourselves/yourselves/themselves

with each other

  • Our neighbours are always arguing among themselves about housework. 
  • Don’t talk too much about it, not even among yourselves.

Confused words: between and among

Among and amongst

Both among and amongst are propositions and there is no particular difference in their meaning.

For example:

  • Their house was settled among/amongst the hills.
  • Paul was the only one among/amongst his friends who was against the trip to the nearby village.

However, we may notice that amongst is more formal than among and that it is less commonly used today.

Confused words: BETWEEN and AMONG

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