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Between vs. Among

You’re trying to divide your pizza into equal parts to share with people in your office, one of whom is a grammarian. Are you sharing them between or among your colleagues? You know that grammarian will be paying attention.


  • I ran between the crowd in search of my friend.
  • A sense of unease began to grow between the class.
  • He sat among his dog and his cat.


Between is for specific people (or things, or generic items), and among is for vague numbers. You may use between for many items, as long as they are specific. For example, if you had five teenagers but just one car, you might have to choose between Bob, Ann, Lamont, Jane, and Willoughby to determine who could borrow it first. The car would not be shared among all the teens, but would pass from teen to teen. If you choose between three people for tickets to go hear a favorite musician, jealousy might spread among all your other friends.


The division between these two words conveys a sense of direction as well as an amount. You can move between the dogs on the trail or among the dogs on the trail; in the first instance, you have a sense of forward motion by approaching and dividing a pair. In the second instance, you wander surrounded by all the dogs.

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