Difference between Among and Between

June 15, 2017 by Editorial Team

Many of us think that the word “between” can only be used if you are talking about two things and the word “among” should only be used if you are talking about three or more things. Believe it or not, this is a misconception. In this article, we will discuss when we should use “among” and when we should use “between.”

Descriptions

Among vs Between

The word among is used:

  1. To indicate that an object or a person is surrounded by or is within a group (usually followed by a plural noun phrase); for example: With nothing but a bottle of water, Mafalda walked among giant sequoia trees.
  2. To talk about an object or a person that is part of a group in general; for example: My son is among the 10 students selected by Principal Bates to represent the school.
  3. To describe a relationship or division that involves three or more objects or people; for example: Monsieur La Penne divided his estate among his sixteen children.

between

On the other hand, between is used:

  1. To indicate that a person or object is in the middle of two separate people or objects; for example: Mrs. Wazowky’s enchanting mansion sits between the mountain and the sea.
  2. To express a connection of two separate periods of time; for example: I lived in the province of Le Fleur between 1991 and 1994.
  3. To describe an interval separated by two points on a scale; for example: Their three children are aged between 14 and 27.
  4. To express a connection, relationship, or difference of distinct objects or people, regardless of how many are involved; for example: The agreement between Taiwan, Japan, China, and Korea will be discussed in today’s forum.
  5. To indicate that something is shared by persons; for example: Jacques and Emily had a scandalous secret between them.

Among vs Between

What, then, is the difference between “among” and “between”?

Both “among” and “between” indicate the position or location of an object or person. “Among” means the object or person is surrounded by a group of objects or people, while “between” indicates that an object or person is in the middle of two different objects or persons.

Both can also be used when talking about relationships, connections, or differences. “Among,” in this case, is used when the objects or persons being talked about are general or unspecified, whereas “between” is used when the objects or persons are specific and distinct.

Further, if you are talking about a person or object that belongs to a group, “among” is the correct term. However, if you are linking one time period to another or talking about an interval between two points on a scale, use “between.” Additionally, use “between” when you are talking about something shared by people or objects.

Comparison Chart

AmongBetween

Indicates that an object or person is surrounded by or within a group; talks about an object or person that is part of a group in general; describes a relationship or division that involves a group of objects or people

Indicates that a person or object is in the middle of two people or objects; expresses a connection of two periods of time; describes an interval separated by two points on a scale; expresses a connection, relationship, or difference of distinct objects or people, regardless of how many; indicates something is shared by persons