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Difference Between Among and Amongst

english_vocab_bookAmong vs Amongst
Prepositions are used to link nouns and pronouns to other words called objects within a sentence. Among and amongst are the most common prepositions used in the English language. As far as the meaning is concerned, there is no difference between the two words, and very often the two are used interchangeably. “Amongst” is used more in the UK and Australia in American English, while “Among” is used more in the U.S in British English. Some people believe that `amongst’ is rather old fashioned and should not be used.

`Amongst’, when used, should come at the beginning of sentences. For example: amongst the people. When it comes in the middle of the sentence, it should be used before words beginning with vowels. For example: He is amongst the top trainers. The sentence with a weak vowel is strengthened by using amongst. For example: ‘The yellow roses were amongst all of the others.’ It sounds better than ‘The yellow roses were among all of the others’. Amongst is mostly used in a dramatic, poetic context etc. Whereas among is often followed by a singular collective noun, in case the noun is the name of a substance. For example: among the straw. It is commonly used with the plural objects of the preposition such as: among the dozens of people; among the causes etc. It is also used with each other or one another. For example: they agreed among themselves.

Among has gained popularity over amongst in last few decades may be due to its shorter version, brevity or space constraints with print media in U.S. Some of the examples in which among is preferred more than amongst are like (a) in the midst of: she decided to dwell among the Indians, (b) in the group, class, or number of: She is among the top teachers (c) to each of: the chocolates should be divided among the students (d) with one another within a group: sort it out among yourselves. Whereas on the other hand amongst can also be used likewise (a) in shares or parts to each person (in a group etc) Divide the cake amongst you. (b) In the company of; in association with: traveling amongst a group of tourists. (c) By many or the entire number of; with many: a custom popular among the Portuguese.

Summary:

1.’Among’ is more frequent in American English whereas ‘amongst’ occurs more often in British English.
2.Amongst is mostly used in a dramatic or poetic context whereas among is commonly used with the plural objects of the preposition.
3.Among is more popular in U.S. whereas amongst in U.K.


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6 Comments

  1. good. but would be better if more examples were added.

    • Where vs. whither is another example that comes to mind. Additionally, prepositions may be modified with a -ward/-wards suffix indicating movement and directionality. For example, up becomes upward; down, downward; in, inward; out, outwards; home, homeward. Most of this isn’t necessary in modern English grammar, but some of it is preserved in idiom and dialect.

      • I would argue that “wither” is not considered a modern term, except for its alternate purpose of “wither and die”, whereas “among” and “amongst” are both modern and current terms. As with much of the English language, its beauty and specificity has been lost by American misuse. “Amongst” exists as a word for the purposes of defining a subset group, whereas “Among” is defining a singular member the a group.

        It’s the appreciation for the finer things in our language which not only sets it apart from the others, and is actually a beautiful thing it’s the very thing which has been lost and makes other language users lack an appreciation for it.

  2. In modern language, there is no real difference between among and amongst. However, there is a historical grammatical basis. In Old English verbs are assigned to a transitive or intransitive category, transitive verbs generally denoting a physical movement. Note that this differs from what we commonly now call transitive and intransitive verbs. Anyways, transitive verbs are matched with transitive prepositions so one could say, for example “go amongst” or “sit among.” Residual vocabulary for many examples continue to exist though this rule has fallen out of use. Consider: here vs. hither, there vs. thither, along vs. alongst (still used in some American dialects). Similar grammar survives in English’s cousins, the Scandinavian langauges.

  3. I find the examples incorrect andor confusing, and the descriptions of usage to be conflicting and, sorry, but rather asinine. Using among instead of amongst for brevity’s sake? Really? This posting left me amongst the cold…
    L

  4. The writer of this article is clearly unfamiliar with the colloquial usage of the word “Amongst”. Vowels have little to do with the choice to use it; rather, “Amongst” is used almost exclusively in the non-physical sense.
    To understand how the word has two senses, consider the synonym “Between”. You were standing between two people; there was talking between two people. There isn’t something in the middle of the people that is talking!
    Likewise, you are standing among the people in the crowd; there is talking amongst the crowd.
    A trickier one is: “You are standing amongst the crowd”. Although a crowd is literal, the word is not a noun because it is a description of the assembly, and not an independent physical entity.
    The vowels of the next word does have a slight influence on one’s choice of word, but only at times when both “Among” and “Amongst” are correct. Both may be used in the non-literal sense. So if in doubt, use “Among”, and you shall always be correct.

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