Between vs Among

What's the difference?



GENERAL RULE: We use between, when we are talking about:

1. TWO OF SOMETHING (two people, two animals, two items)
The bill was split between Emily and Jane.
Between you and me, I think Luke should buy his own flat.

2. INDIVIDUAL RELATIONSHIPS: Sometimes between is used with more than two things. I must choose between U of T, UBC, and McMaster University. = Here we are talking about individual relationships between me and U of T, me and UBC, and myself and McMaster University.
There was an agreement between members of the Canadian jury, the American jury and the Australian jury. = Here we are talking about individual/one-to-one relationship: an agreement between the Canadian jury and the American jury; the Canadian jury and the Australian jury; and the American jury and the Australian jury.
There is a trade agreement between Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria. = we are talking about a trade agreement between Slovakia (a distinct country) and the Czech Republic (a specified individual country); Slovakia and Austria; and the Czech Republic and Austria.

3. DIFFERENCE: If you have the word difference in the sentence, use between.
There is a difference between the Scottish, the Irish, and the British accent.
There is a difference between rock music, punk rock, and heavy metal.

4. DEFINED LOCATION: When we talk about physical location, we often use between or among. If the location/path/point is defined/specific, use between.
Slovakia lies between Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ukraine, and Poland.
I ran between the trees and the playground. = a defined path.etwwe



1. GENERAL RULE: We use among, when we are talking about three or more items. Among the books, I saw an old photo of my parents.
I walked among the flowers.

2. GROUP/MASS NOUNS: Among is used when we’re talking about groups. The group is general and there aren’t specified members (an undefined group).
I must choose among universities in Canada. = Here we are talking about universities as a whole, not specific universities.
There was an agreement among all jury members. = we are talking about members as a whole group.
Trade agreements exist among countries. = we aren’t talking about distinct countries, but about countries as a whole, as a group.

3. DISTRIBUTE: If you have the word distribute in the sentence, use among.
The tips were distributed among the waitresses.

4. NO DEFINED LOCATION: If the location/path/point is not defined or specific, use among.
I got lost among the trees.
I found my earing among the flowers.

5. INCLUDED IN: Among those in the audience was The Queen. Among = included in, be a part of.

6. ONE OF: Colosseum is among the seven wonders of the world. Among = one of (Colosseum is one of the seven wonders of the world.)

Between vs Among

Time to Practice

1. Test your understanding of BETWEEN and AMONG with this English quiz. Choose the correct option.

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