Amongst vs Among – Difference Between Amongst and Among
The difference between among and amongst is that amongst is a preposition often used in classic literature and novels, whereas among is often used as part of common everyday language. They both mean to be in the middle of or surrounded by something.
Today, we want to look at among vs amongst in greater detail to better help you understand where it is appropriate to use these prefixes. They both actually mean the same thing, but it is the way that they are used that makes them unique when compared to one another.
Are you ready to find out more? Simply read on for everything you need to know.
Definition of Amongst – So What Is Amongst?
The definition of amongst is to be in the company of others, associated with others, or in the middle of something.
It is very difficult to separate among vs amongst when we read the above description because as you will soon see, it is virtually identical to the definition of among. Rather than focusing on their exact meanings, it is more beneficial to focus on how and where these words get used as part of everyday language instead.
This makes the comparison a little more straightforward because, in fact, the word amongst rarely ever gets used in everyday language. Its usage is actually so rare that it is generally used 10% as frequently as the word among is.
The main difference between among and amongst is that the word amongst gets used within more formal settings and contexts. It is more of a feature when used as part of classical English or any written literature with a formal tone.
Here are some examples of how this word can be applied within context.
- “Please discuss the group assignment amongst yourselves.”
- “At the dinner party, she thanked the host before sitting amongst her colleagues.”
- “He was considered to be a king amongst men, when it came to playing the blues.”
As you can see by the tone of the above sentences, these are all very formal examples of written English. You could actually use the word among as part of any of these sentence structures, but it would feel and sound slightly out of place compared to the word amongst, which is a more appropriate way of saying or implying the exact same thing (to be among something).
Consider these other examples of where you might see the word amongst used.
- Classic novels
- Traditional texts (including plays)
- Textbooks (depending on the tone of the textbook)
- Scientific or medical journals
Ultimately, it is the context or tone of the written or spoken sentence that dictates whether we should use amongst vs among. Despite the more formal application of the word amongst, it is interesting to note that the word among is actually significantly older.
The addition of “st” to the word among took place sometime in the 16th century, where language trends saw the letter “s” commonly being added to nouns in order to make them adverbs. Most people assume that the word amongst is the older of the two, but it came later on as a means of establishing a different tone where this was deemed necessary.
Let’s now take a look at the definition of among to get a better idea of how the two vary.
Definition of Among – So What Is Among?
The definition of among is to be located in the middle of something or several people.
As we said previously, based on the definition of each word alone, it is virtually impossible to separate amongst vs among from one another as they can be used interchangeably. Of the two words, it is highly likely that you will encounter “among” far more than you will “amongst.”
This is because the word among is used 90% more frequently than amongst and is the preferred spoken and written way of stating that something is situated in the middle of something else.
In some ways, you could consider it the more accessible, less formal, and more laid-back version of amongst. It gets used very casually in both American and British English. Examples of where you will see the word among include these types of contexts.
- As part of informal everyday speech
- As part of informal social media and digital marketing
Again though, there is absolutely no set rule to dictate that either word would be used exclusively in the context provided in the examples. We can see this further when we look at the same sentence structures as before but with the substitution of the word among, albeit with a more informal tone.
- “Please discuss the group assignment among yourselves.”
- “At the dinner party, she thanked the host before sitting among her colleagues.”
- “He was considered to be a king among men, when it came to playing the blues.”
It may seem like there really is not a significant difference between the amongst vs among definition. Importantly, when you read the above sentences with an informal tone and the word among replacing the word amongst, they suddenly have a more familiar and laid-back feel. It is as if you are saying each sentence as part of everyday conversation.
Would it be wrong to use either word interchangeably in these sentences? Absolutely not! But if you want to convey a formal vs informal tone, then they can individually help you to present either in a more appropriate fashion.
The quick reference table in the next section should help to remind you of their key variations and appropriate use anytime you get stuck with these two words in the future.
What Is the Main Difference Between Amongst vs Among?
The below table will assist you in determining whether you should use among or amongst.
|Complexity||Less complex||More complex|
|Usage examples||Everyday conversation, magazines, informal media||Classic literature, novels, scientific or medical journals, as part of formal speech|
|Usage frequency||Used more frequently||Used less frequently|
|Examples||“He sat among his friends.” “She was among the trees.”||“Amongst scholars, he was by far the most educated.” “She was amongst the most skilled artists of her time.”|
The above table provides a very clear separation between the two words.
Amongst vs Among – FAQ
We will now answer the most frequently asked questions about the difference between amongst and among.
Q: What is the amongst definition, and how should I use the word?
A: Amongst means to be situated in the middle of or in between something. It is typically used in formal settings as part of spoken and written language.
Q: What is the among definition, and how should I use the word?
A: Among means to be placed in the center of something. It is typically used informally as part of casual written or spoken language.
Q: Should I use the word amongst or among?
A: Both words mean to be in the middle of something. The difference between them is that amongst is typically used in formal settings, whereas the word among is typically used in informal settings.
So What Is the Difference Between Among and Amongst? – Conclusion
In summary, the difference between amongst and among should now finally be clear as day to you. It can be a little confusing when you see both of these words next to each other, but we can easily summarize them.
The word amongst usually appears as part of formal written and spoken language, whereas the word among usually appears as part of informal written and spoken language.
Ultimately, this is the main variation between two words that essentially mean the same thing. Anytime you get stuck with them in the future, simply come back to our quick reference table for a refresh on this comparison.