Among vs. Amongst: How to Use Amongst vs. Among Correctly

When it comes to using the words “among” and “amongst”, it can be difficult to determine which one to use in a given situation. Many people use these words interchangeably, but there are actually some subtle differences in their usage. In this article, we will explore the differences between “among” and “amongst” to help you use them correctly in your writing.

Among vs. Amongst: Understanding the Basics 

So what do these two words mean exactly? “Situated more or less centrally in relation to (several other things)” Which word is this definition attributed to? To both of them, they mean the same thing and they can be used interchangeably. Then why the confusion? Well, the context might differ a little bit.

Among vs. AmongstPin

Understanding Among vs. Amongst

Definition of Among

“Among” is a preposition used to describe a relationship where an item or person exists within a larger group. It can signify being surrounded by, influenced by, or shared with a certain community or collection of individuals or objects. For instance, we could say:

  • We walked among the beautiful flowers in the garden.
  • Our friends were scattered among the crowd at the concert.

As a general rule, “among” is more commonly used when referring to relationships involving three or more individuals or items.

Definition of Amongst

“Amongst” is an alternative to “among” and carries the same meaning. It was historically formed by adding the suffix -st to “among,” a practice in older versions of English. Both “among” and “amongst” can be used interchangeably; however, “amongst” is generally considered more formal and less common in everyday conversation, particularly in American English.

Here are examples that illustrate the use of “amongst”:

  • The hidden treasure was discovered amongst the old relics.
  • The students were chatting amongst themselves during the break.

When to Use Amongst or Among

When to Use Amongst

Amongst is less used, sometimes even considered archaic. The truth is that amongst is the younger variant, among being the older one here. Still, amongst is considered more old-fashioned. For this reason, you would usually use amongst when you want to sound more sophisticated.

Examples:

  • She found herself amongst a plethora of delicate flowers.
  • He found it amongst a pile of old books.

When to Use Among

Among is the popular variant of the same idea, being used nearly ten times as much as amongst. Even though among is older, it is considered more modern. For this reason, you would usually use among in almost any situation.

Examples:

  • She found a pen among her pencils.
  • He identified his baggage among hundreds of others.

Useful Tips for Distinguishing Among vs. Amongst

While you can use any variant you want, you may like to adhere to the correct styles of writing or speaking. An easy way to remember which variant to use is to keep this in mind: more sophisticated usually means more complicated, longer, and harder to write.

Related Confused Words with Among or Amongst

Many often confuse “among” and “amongst” with similar prepositions like “between” and “amidst.” It’s essential to use these words correctly to maintain clarity in communication.

Among vs. Between

Among is used when referring to relationships or distributions involving more than two entities collectively or when no distinct distinctions are made. Between typically relates to a situation involving two distinct or individual entities.

Examples:

  • She chose a dessert from the array of sweets among the spread.
  • Negotiations occurred between the two companies.

Amongst vs. Admist

While “amongst” is functionally equivalent to “among” and used interchangeably in most contexts, “amidst” serves a different purpose. “Amidst” means in the middle of or surrounded by, and often relates to a situation or condition.

When one is involved with a group and belonging to or part of it, they would use “among” or “amongst”:

    • She found her name amongst the list of contributors.

Conversely, “amidst” shines in contexts involving an environment or setting:

    • He stood calmly amidst the chaos.

Among vs. Amongst: Examples

Examples of “Among” 

  1. The secret was shared only among the closest members of the group.
  2. She felt comfortable sitting among her friends.
  3. The teacher distributed the snacks among the students.
  4. There was a consensus among the committee members about the decision.
  5. He walked among the trees, enjoying the peace of the forest.

Examples of “Amongst

  1. The rumor spread quickly amongst the inhabitants of the village.
  2. She found herself feeling strangely at ease amongst strangers.
  3. The wealth was divided equally amongst the heirs.
  4. There was an air of excitement amongst the crowd as the concert began.
  5. He was renowned amongst his peers for his groundbreaking research.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between ‘among’ and ‘amongst’?
Among and amongst are both prepositions used for indicating a relationship or a distribution in a group. While among is preferred in American English, amongst is more commonly used in British English, though it may sound slightly more formal or archaic.

Can ‘among’ and ‘amongst’ be used interchangeably? Yes, they can. In terms of meaning, there is no difference between the two. The choice between them often comes down to personal or regional style.

Is ‘between’ interchangeable with ‘among’ and ‘amongst’?
No. ‘Between’ is used when referring specifically to two entities. In contrast, among or amongst is used when referring to a non-specific number, typically more than two.

Is there any instance where ‘among’ or ‘amongst’ should be exclusively used?
There is no strict rule in modern English that dictates the exclusive use of one over the other. The preference is mostly stylistic.

Word Usage
Among More common overall, especially in American English.
Amongst More common in British English, and can evoke a more formal tone.

 

Last Updated on December 18, 2023

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