There is a widespread belief that the preposition between should be used in sentences with a choice involving two items while among is applicable to choices involving more than two items. While this may be true for some cases, this rule is not absolute and can cause errors in the usage of these terms.
“Here’s the important difference between Snapchat and Instagram’s lookalike apps”
“At the Trade Deadline, Some Players Fight a Battle Between Reality and Rumors”
New York Times
“Intriguing link between vitamin D and birth control uncovered”
Medical News Today
The first examples demonstrated the popular use of between when considering two choices and highlighting their one-to-one relationships.
However, between can be used even for choices involving more than two items as long as they are distinct, individual items.
“Info sharing between Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore helped foil planned Marina Bay attack”
News Straits Times Online
The next sentence, however, uses between to indicate rivalries between an unspecified number of countries at the 2016 summer olympics.
“Ranking the Best Rivalries Between Countries at the 2016 Summer Olympics”
There are common words followed by between. These include the nouns, connection, link and difference, and the verbs, choose, differentiate, and distinguish.
On the other hand, the preposition among is generally used for choices involving individuals or items that are not distinct.
“Brett Favre, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison among 8 inductees to Pro Football Hall of Fame”
Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
“Newlyweds, a preschool teacher, a young mother among the 16 dead in fiery hot-air-balloon crash”
It is also used for items that are part of a group or a plural noun.
“Smaller households among Seattle renters mean they aren’t yet in the majority”
“High Smoking Rates Continue Among Racial, Ethnic Groups, Despite Overall Decline In US: CDC”
International Business Times
Some people also use amongst, a variant of among, which is mostly found in British, Australian, and Canadian English, but has the same use and meaning.
“Three new species identified amongst the Tegu lizard family”
“Religious destinations most favorite amongst travellers this season”
Times of India
To master the uses of among and between, try giving your own example for each of the uses we presented above. Do you already have sentences in mind? Share them below.