Grammar Chaos: When to Use Between and Among

Posted on Jul 26, 2017

Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one who misuses between and among. It’s easy to confuse them because they mean very similar things. However, it’s also not impossible to get them right.


Traditionally, when you use between, it means two separated things, usually on opposite ends. When you use among, more than two objects are often involved, and the separation is not too clear because they are in a group. Here are some examples to help you distinguish the difference.

 The fitting room is located between the cashier and the sale rack.

 I was able to find the last pair of blue jeans among the other items on sale.

Contrary to traditional belief, between can also be used for multiple elements, provided that the elements are specified.

 Dion was asked to choose between a bike, a teddy bear, and a robot for a new toy.

 Dion was asked to choose from just one among different toys

Having said that, the rule of use for between and among has been adjusted. Now between is for specific relationships. Among is for nonspecific relationships. Here are examples.

 A fight broke out between the leaders of the two gaming teams.

 A fight broke out among the team members.

However, that’s not the only time we use the two. They make appearances in prepositional phrases as well. When connecting numbers, between is used, never among.

  1. I remember living in Australia between 1999 and 2003.

  2. We’re meeting between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

Among can also be used to suggest that a subject is included in a group of something.

  1. I felt like I was among like-minded people.

  2. She couldn’t find her lip liner among her makeup items.

There’s also a difference when you use between and among for directions.

 There’s an ice cream store among the food stalls in the mall.

 There’s an ice cream store between the food stalls in the mall.

The first sentence says that a mall has food stalls, one of which is an ice cream store. However, the second sentence says that the ice cream store is located between food stalls in the mall.

How about amongst? Doesn’t change anything. Amongst is a variant of among, which first appeared in Old English and became more popular in Middle English. Amongst is a word resulting from a trend in Old English when s is added to words to make adverbs. Some other examples are always, once, whilst, and amidst. In American English, amongst is rarely used. It’s a lot more popular in British, Australian, and Canadian English.

In summary, certain situations will require you to use between; some of them will require among. This all depends on how specific the situation you’re dealing with is.

If you’re still not confident enough, why not have your copy checked by a professional proofreader? 1-Hour Proofreading offers fast and reliable proofreading and copyediting services at a fraction of the cost. Go to our main site to find out more!

Got more grammar issues? Any homophones giving you a headache? Any multiple uses making your head spin? Shoot us a message, and we’ll try to help! Or go through our Grammar Chaos section to see if we’ve already answered your conundrum!


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