Do you ever have trouble remembering when to use “between” vs. “among”? You’re not the only one. A lot of people treat these words interchangeably and use one when they should really have used the other. You’re in luck, though. Today we’re going to walk you through the difference between these words.
Many people think that we use “between” when talking about two people or things (e.g., “She chose between the iPhone and the Android”) and that we use “among” when talking about three or more people or things (e.g., “She chose among the iPhone, the Android, and the Blackberry). Although this “rule” will give you the right answer some of the time, it doesn’t work in all cases.
So how do we know when to use each word?
We use “between” when we’re referring to individual people, groups, or objects, even if there are more than two of them. For example, we would use “between” in sentences like these:
- “Samantha chose between the Ford, the Honda, and the Toyota.”
- “The differences in performance between the US, British, and French teams were minimal.”
In both cases, we’re referring to individual types of cars or individual national teams.
In comparison, we use “among” when we’re referring to things that aren’t individual people, groups, or objects. These nondiscrete people and things often take the form of groups or crowds. For example, we would use “among” like this:
- “Samantha chose among the cars at the dealership.”
- “They were among the victims of the train crash.”
In both cases, we’re referring to a group of people or objects instead of to individual people or objects.
As you can see, the difference between “between” and “among” isn’t that hard to grasp. It’s just that most of us weren’t formally taught how these words differ. Now that you’ve read this post, however, you’ll have a better idea of when to use each one.
Want to know the difference between other commonly misused words? Check out our post on the difference between “farther” and “further.”
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