The English language is full of quirks that confuse many speakers and writers. For instance, what is the difference between among and amongst? Is amongst a word?
My quick guide will show you the difference between among and amongst. You’ll learn that both words are prepositions with the same meanings, but I’ll show you how there’s a time and place for each.
“Among” vs. “Amongst”
Both among and amongst are prepositions with the same definitions. Both can be used interchangeably, but it’s really all a matter of style:
- Surrounded by or in the company of
- Being a member of a larger group
- Occurring in or predicted by a certain group of people
- Indicating a choice, division, or differentiation involving more than two people
The -st at the end of amongst is a holdover from a period of English in which s sounds were added to words (usually nouns) to make adverbs. Other examples of words inflected this way include always, once, whence, and unawares, and there are a few other -st adverbs such as whilst and amidst.
When to Use “Among”
Among is an older version of the word, but it is more common in modern and casual conversations. For instance, you can say that someone is the eldest among five siblings. You might also say that someone got something among their boxes of books.
When to Use “Amongst”
Amongst sounds more dated, but it appeared later than among. During the Middle English period, the language added sounds to specific words to identify them as adverbs. Among became amongst to become an adverb.
Some words still follow this tradition, such as unawares, once, and always. Other examples that we rarely use in Modern English are whilst and whence.
Use amongst if you want to sound more formal in your writing. It’s also more commonly used in British English as opposed to American English, but it really just depends on your writing style.
How to Use “Among” in a Sentence
Here are some examples of among in a sentence.
- He was among the players chosen to join the national event.
- There is so much unhappiness among the people.
- The bracelet was hidden among the boxes.
- I just want to dance among the stars, these after-hours got me [Afterhours by Diplo].
- A report that the Suns have interest in Collins was forcefully shot down by Phoenix-based radio host and insider John Gambadoro, but league sources confirmed Utah is among the teams to express interest in the Atlanta forward. [NBC Sports]
How to Use “Amongst” in a Sentence
Here are some examples of amongst in sentences.
- Why are they always fighting amongst themselves?
- You don’t have to worry. You’re amongst friends.
- Studies show that college-educated women are amongst the most likely to say men and women are not treated equally by society.
- “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, J.K. Rowling]
- Energy crisis serving as a catalyst for technological transformation amongst energy retailers. [Current]
“Among” vs. “Amongst” Summary
I hope my little guide has helped you understand the use of among and amongst in sentences. Remember that these words are both prepositions with the same definition: Surrounded by or in the company of.
Use among when engaging in casual writing or conversations. But if you want to sound fancier, I think the Middle English term amongst is better.