Among vs. Amongst: Is There a Difference Between Them?

Discover the difference between among vs. amongst. See how these words are used in English through sentence examples. Find out how the words between, among and amongst vary.

among vs amongst example of informal and formal among vs amongst example of informal and formal

Which Is Correct Among or Amongst?

Sometimes when it comes to a grammar battle between two similar words, it all comes down to preference. This is true in the case of among vs. amongst. Among and amongst are two different versions of the same word. They both mean surrounded by, in the presence of, in the company of, or in the middle of. Additionally, both terms are prepositions, meaning they show a relationship to another word or clause. Therefore, either word you use in the sentence is grammatically correct.

Among Is the Preferred Choice

Since amongst has pretty much gone out of style, among is the preferred word among the two in both American and British English. However, it’s seen more commonly in British English than in American English. When you use amongst, you are technically correct, but it looks pretentious and overly formal to some.

History of Among and Amongst

While amongst might sound like the older of the two words, you’d probably be surprised to find out that among is the older word. The word among came from Old English, but amongst didn’t come into the scene until Middle English. However, the Middle English usage of amongst seems more archaic of the two.

Sentences Using Among vs. Amongst

Since amongst and among mean the same thing, they technically can be used interchangeably. However, you’ll notice how changing the sentence from among to amongst adds a formality to it. You'll also notice it works to add age to the sentence.

  • We are among friends here.
  • We are amongst friends here.
  • Can we keep this among us?
  • Can we keep this amongst us?
  • Do not be afraid to walk among the criminals, my lord.
  • Do not be afraid to walk amongst the criminals, my lord.
  • He stood among the mountains taking in the fantastic view.
  • He stood amongst the mountains taking in the fantastic view.
  • The king should not be walking among the lowly peasants.
  • The king should not be walking amongst the lowly peasants.
  • It sat on a shelf among a variety of pictures.
  • It sat on a shelf amongst a variety of pictures.

While each sentence is grammatically correct, it’s easy to see how changing from among to amongst changes the formality or the time of the writing. For example, when talking about kings and queens, the use of amongst seems to flow well in the sentence, but in everyday English conversation, it makes the sentence look out of place.

Between vs. Among vs. Amongst

You know that among and amongst are the same. The only difference is the formality either word adds to your writing, but what about between. Between can be confused with among, but when it comes to between, you are typically talking about two or more distinct elements. For example:

  • She was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
  • The political talks between the senate members were disintegrating fast.
  • He had to choose between the two different cars.
  • They had trouble deciding between eggs and cereal.

On the other hand, among or amongst, insinuates a greater number of similar elements or a group.

  • Among her friends, she felt the most comfortable.
  • It’s hard when you find yourself among strangers.
  • He had trouble finding his book among the clutter.
  • She weaved among the crowd trying to mingle.

Among vs. Amongst: You Choose

When it comes to among vs. amongst, you can use either one. However, both American and British English prefer the use of among. Keep on rolling through tricky words by diving into the difference between used to vs. use to. You might also want to learn the difference between inter and intra.

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