Between or Among?
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Hi there. My name is Emma. Today, we have a very exciting lesson for you, a very exciting
grammar lesson. I know some of you are probably thinking, "Can grammar really be that exciting?"
I think yes, yes, it can. We're going to be looking at the difference between "among",
"amongst", and "between".
What we're going to do is, first, we're going to look at how teachers often tell you what
the difference is. I'm going to call this the simple difference between "among" and
"between". Then we're going to look at when this simple difference rule doesn't work.
We're going to look at the rule, and then we're going to look at when the rule doesn't
work. Let's get started.
A lot of teachers, and you may have heard this before, they often say that we use "between"
when we're talking about two of something; maybe two people, two items, two animals,
two objects. We use "among" when we're talking about three or more items. Again, it can be
people, objects. This is what a lot of teachers say. In general, this rule does work, but
again, there are many exceptions to this rule, which I will talk about in the second part
of this video.
Let's look at the first sentence, which is an example. "The bill was split between Frank
and Mark." We have two people, so this is okay. "...between Frank and Mark". "The bill
was split", meaning... when you go to a restaurant, at the end of your dinner they give you a
piece of paper and it might say $40 -- this is how much you have to pay. What Frank and
Mark did is they split the bill "between" them, meaning Frank paid some and Mark paid
A second example: "Between you and me, I think Jane should tell her mom the truth."
What does this mean? Again, there are two of us; you and me. Often times we use "between" to
say "let's keep this a secret between us." "Between you and me, I think Jane should tell
her mom the truth." You may have noticed I underlined "me" in red marker. Some people,
especially native speakers, think this is "I". They think "Between you and I, I think
Jane should tell her mom the truth." This is in fact incorrect. Because "between" is
a preposition, it should be "me" after, but you will hear a lot of people say, "between
you and I". You'll hear it all the time. It's not grammatically correct.
In our third example, we're using "among". "Among the books, I saw an old photo." Books
-- there're more than two in this case. It might not be clear, but I'm talking about
more than two books. Another sentence: "I walked among the trees."
Now we're going to look at when this rule, two items versus three+ items, does not apply,
when this rule doesn't work.
If you look over here, we have "between", "between", and "between". On this side, we
have "among", "among", and "among". What do you notice about these sentences? Take a second
to read them. "I must choose between U of T, UBC, and McMaster University." Are there
two items in that sentence? No, there're three items, and yet, we use "between". Same with
the next one: "There was an agreement between members of the Justin Bieber Fan Club, the
Katy Perry Fan Club, and The Black Sabbath Fan Club." Again, we have three items. We
could even add to those; we could say the Marilyn Manson Fan Club, and KISS Nation,
Here again, "There is a trade agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the United States." I
said before that we use "between" for two, and "among" for three, but you see here, this
isn't the case. My point is, although "between" is often used "between" two things, it's not
always. Sometimes, "between" is used with more than two things. How do we know when