Between versus Among

When to Use Between


We use between when talking about a relationship of a person or thing with regard to other people or things separately and distinctly.

  • Can we keep this between you and me?

    You can use between for more than two objects if this same one-to-one relationship between distinct units is understood from the context. For example,

  • There is now more interstate trade between Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.


    Between can also be used to refer to more than two things when items are considered one pair at a time.

  • Discussions are under way between the corporate board and the Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas economic planning committees.

    When to Use Among

    Among is used to refer to undefined or collective relationships—things that are not distinct or individual.

  • Keeping peace among neighboring regions is an imperative.

    Between and Among as Prepositions

    Being that both between and among are prepositions, you must ensure that any pronouns that follow either of them be in the objective case.

  • Between her and him (Correct)
  • Between she and he (Wrong)
  • Between you and me (Correct)
  • Between you and I (Wrong)

    Summary

    The debate over among vs. between is a little more complicated that the traditional rules leads you to believe.

    Between is used for one-to-one relationships between discrete things.

    Among is used for undefined or collective relationships between things.
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