How do you know if you should be using among *or *amongst?
The short answer is that among and amongst are two variations of the same word. They have the same meaning in modern English, but among is used much more frequently.
Among dates back to Old English, circa 1000 AD. Amongst was first used in Middle English, circa 1200 AD, when many words gained extra sounds they didn’t have before. For example, “while” gained the form “whilst,” and “when” gained the form “whence.”
This article will explain the exact meanings of among and amongst and show you examples of how to use them in a sentence.
- What’s the difference between among and amongst?
What’s the difference between among and amongst?
*Among *and *amongst *are both prepositions that mean “surrounded by” or “in the middle of.”
For example, you could say “I feel comfortable among *strangers” or “I feel comfortable *amongst strangers.” Both variations of this sentence are grammatically correct.
If you can use among in a sentence, you can also use amongst—it depends on your writing style.
However, you should keep in mind that American writers use amongst less often than British writers, so they may be less familiar with it. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, American writing includes over 300,000 uses of amongcompared to only 10,000 uses of amongst.
Using amongst With an American audience might make you sound more formal or even pompous, because readers will not expect this variation. ProWritingAid can help you stick to British English or American English if you’re ever unsure which word to use.
When to Use Among vs Amongst (with Examples)
Let’s look at some examples of among and amongst in English literature.
You can see from these examples that the two words are interchangeable: they can both be used in the same types of sentences.
Among Ourselves or Amongst Ourselves
“And I know… I know my dears, that when we recollect how patient and how mild he was; although he was a little, little child, we shall not quarrel easily among ourselves and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it.” – _A Christmas Carol _by Charles Dickens
“Perhaps we should whisper amongst ourselves and make them wonder what we speak of?” – Knight of Darkness by Kinley MacGregor
Among Others or A among Others
“There are two types of people in the world: those who prefer to be sad among others, and those who prefer to be sad alone.” – _The History of Love _by Nicole Krauss
“In the individual’s struggle for survival amongst others, the self was gradually forgotten and gradually churned like a grain of sand into the chaos of the boundless universe.” – Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian
Examples of Among
“Among other things, you’ll find that you’re not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior.” – _The Catcher in the Rye _by JD Salinger
“You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men.” – _Persuasion _by Jane Austen
“But the barriers of distance are crumbling; one day we shall meet our equals, or our masters, among the stars.” – _2001: A Space Odyssey _by Arthur C. Clarke
“You see I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad things that happened to me.” – _The Great Gatsby _by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Examples of Amongst
“Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst Their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!” – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
But for a moment Dirk had a sense of infinite loss and sadness that somewhere amongst the frenzy of information noise that daily ratted the lives of men he thought he might have heard a few notes that denoted the movements of gods.” – _The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul _by Douglas Adams
“I wondered if there was any way to live amongst other people and refuse to be harnessed by their expectations and dependencies.” – Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
“Kindness can thrive even amongst cruelty.” – A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Now you know the difference between among and amongst. You can use both words in the same ways, but for an American audience, you should probably stick to among.