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Difference Between Among or Amongst

among or amongst

Among” and “amongst” are prepositions in the English language that are often used interchangeably. Both words are used to indicate a relationship involving more than two parties or to denote inclusion within a group, number, or class. Despite their similarities, there are subtle differences in their usage, connotation, and preference in various dialects of English. This article aims to explore the nuances of “among” and “amongst,” examining their definitions, origins, pronunciations, and applications in sentences to provide a clearer understanding of when and how each term is appropriately used.

AspectAmongAmongst
DefinitionUsed to indicate inclusion within or occurrence in a group, number, or classSynonymous with “among,” often used interchangeably
UsagePreferred in American and modern British EnglishMore common in British English and in more formal or literary contexts
Pronunciation/əˈmʌŋ//əˈmʌŋst/
OriginOld English, from “on gemong,” meaning “in a crowd or throng”Derivative of “among” with the addition of the adverbial suffix -st, common in Middle English
Examples“She found a friend among strangers.”“He stood amongst the trees, contemplating.”
Subtle Choice Between Among or Amongst

Difference Between “Among” and “Amongst”

Definition of Among

"Among" signifies being in the middle of, part of, or included within a group, number, or class. It is used to express a relationship where an entity is surrounded by others or is part of a larger collection. Among" is versatile and can be applied in various contexts to denote inclusion or distribution.

Definition of Amongst

"Amongst" shares the same basic definition as "among" and is used to indicate inclusion or presence within a group or collective. The addition of the suffix "-st" does not alter its fundamental meaning but can give the term a slightly more formal or archaic flavor. "Amongst" is often chosen for stylistic reasons or in specific dialects.

Origin of Among and Amongst

Both “among” and “amongst” derive from Old English, with “among” coming from “on gemong,” which means “in a crowd or throng.” The form “amongst” evolved from “among” with the addition of the Middle English adverbial suffix -st, a common linguistic feature at the time that added emphasis or distinction to words.

Pronunciation

  • Among: Pronounced as /əˈmʌŋ/, with the stress on the second syllable.
  • Amongst: Pronounced as /əˈmʌŋst/, with the stress on the second syllable and ending with a “st” sound.

Comparing Among and Amongst

The primary difference between “among” and “amongst” is their usage in different varieties of English and in various contexts. “Among” is the more commonly used form in both American and contemporary British English, considered standard in most contexts. “Amongst” is more frequently seen in British English and tends to appear in more formal, literary, or traditional texts. The choice between them often comes down to regional preference, stylistic considerations, or the rhythm and flow of the sentence.

Evolution of Among and Amongst in English Language

Usage in Sentences with Explanations

Use of Among in Sentences

  1. She found a friend among strangers.
    • “Among” is used to denote finding companionship within a group of unknown people.
  2. The discussions among the team members were productive.
    • Indicates inclusive conversations within the team, emphasizing the collective participation.
  3. The secret was safe among friends.
    • “Among” conveys trust and confidentiality maintained within a close-knit group.
  4. He distributed the chocolates among the children.
    • Describes the act of sharing or dividing something within a group.
  5. Among her many talents, singing stood out the most.
    • Used to highlight a particular skill as prominent within a broader range of abilities.

Use of Amongst in Sentences

  1. He stood amongst the trees, contemplating.
    • “Amongst” is used to evoke a more formal or literary tone, describing someone being physically surrounded by trees.
  2. Whispers spread amongst the crowd.
    • Conveys the idea of rumors circulating within a group, using “amongst” for stylistic effect.
  3. She felt at peace amongst her garden’s flowers.
    • “Amongst” adds a touch of elegance or poetic flair to the description of being in the midst of the garden.
  4. Amongst the options available, he chose the least expected.
    • Indicates a preference within a range of choices, employing “amongst” for a slightly more formal tone.
  5. The legend of the hero was known amongst the villagers.
    • “Amongst” is used here to suggest a sense of tradition or lore within a community.

Conclusion

While “among” and “amongst” can be used interchangeably without significant difference in meaning, the choice between them may be influenced by regional English preferences, the desired tone or style of writing, and the specific context. “Among” is generally preferred in American English and modern British English for its straightforwardness and contemporary feel. “Amongst,” on the other hand, offers a stylistic alternative that might be favored for its formal or literary connotation, particularly in British English. Understanding these subtleties enables more nuanced and effective communication.

Commonly Asked Questions

  1. Is one form more correct than the other?
    • Neither “among” nor “amongst” is more correct; the choice depends on stylistic preference, regional variations, and the context in which it is used.
  2. Can “among” and “amongst” be used in any type of text?
    • Yes, both “among” and “amongst” can be used in various texts, from formal writing to casual communication. However, “among” is more common in everyday usage, while “amongst” might be chosen for stylistic reasons or in more formal or literary contexts.
  3. Is the use of “amongst” considered outdated?
    • While “amongst” may sound more formal or traditional, it is not considered outdated and is still used in contemporary English, especially in certain dialects and stylistic contexts.
Contemporary Usage Trends Among or Amongst

FAQ

The Historical Context of Among and Amongst

Both “among” and “amongst” share a rich history, with their usage evolving from ancient texts to modern English. This section delves into the etymology, analyzing historical language development and their roles throughout.

The Evolution of Language Use in English

Capturing how the usage of “among” and “amongst” has adapted to the evolving English language, this portion investigates the divergence between American and British English, exploring the implications for contemporary usage on both sides of the Atlantic.

Current linguistic preferences for “among” versus “amongst” vary between American and British English. This section looks at linguistic research, modern publications, and language guidelines to illuminate current regional distinctions and preferences.

Case Examples Demonstrating the Use of Among

Through scrutinizing sentences and phrases from authoritative sources, this section provides clear models for correctly using “among” in context, offering readers practical examples to guide their own usage in American English.

Case Examples Demonstrating the Use of Amongst

Complementing the case examples for “among,” this section presents proper usage instances for “amongst,” underscoring the distinctions and providing readers with concrete references to determine the most appropriate contexts for its use.

What is the definition of among and amongst?

“Among” is typically a preposition that is used to indicate a relationship or inclusion within a group, while “amongst” is a variant that carries the same meaning with a slightly more formal or archaic tone. Both indicate a presence within or connection to a group of items or individuals.

Can you explain the difference between among and amongst?

The main difference is regional preference and formality. “Among” is preferred in American English and is considered more modern and informal, while “amongst” is more commonly used in British English and tends to have a more formal or old-fashioned feel. Beyond this, there is no significant difference in meaning.

When should I use among instead of amongst?

Use “among” in contexts that call for a more modern and informal tone, especially in American English where it is the standard choice. Among” is typically your best bet in everyday language, professional writing, and when the flow of the sentence seems more natural with a shorter, one-syllable word.

When is it appropriate to use amongst in a sentence?

Amongst” may be used when you are either writing in a context that appreciates a more formal tone or aligns with British English preferences. It might also be selected for aesthetic or rhythmic reasons in prose or poetry where the additional syllable contributes to the flow of the text.

Is there a differnce in meaning between among and amongst?

No, there is no intrinsic difference in meaning between “among” and “amongst.” Both prepositions imply being in the company of or involved with a group. It’s the usage, context, and regional preference that guide the choice of which one to use.

Are there any grammatical rules that dictate the usage of among or amongst?

Grammatically, both “among” and “amongst” follow the same rules and can be used interchangeably. The choice between them often comes down to stylistic preference, the desired sound of a sentence, or consistency in the formality level of the language being used.

Has the usage of among and amongst changed over time?

Yes, usage trends have shifted over time. “Amongst” was once more common, but “among” has grown in popularity and is now the predominant form in American English. British English has a more balanced use but is also showing a trend toward preferring “among.” Historical context and modern usage influence these changes.

Can you give examples of using among in a sentence?

Certainly. For instance, “She felt a sense of belonging among her peers,” or “The funds were evenly distributed among the members of the group.” Here, “among” is used to denote inclusion within a collective.

Could you provide examples of amongst in use?

Yes. An example would be, “The fairy tales of old are whispered amongst the elders,” or “He had a reputation for honor amongst his colleagues.” In these cases, “amongst” adds a formal or archaic nuance.

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, writer at TexTribe.co.uk, blends creativity with insight, exploring technology, culture, and psychology. With a background in English Literature, she crafts engaging stories inspired by nature and urban life. Outside writing, she enjoys exploring and continuous learning.View Author posts

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