Among and Amongst

by Craig Shrives
The Quick Answer
What is the difference between among and amongst?

The words among and amongst can be used interchangeably. In the US, amongst is rare to the extent it will be considered wrong – especially in formal writing.
among or amongst difference

Among and Amongst

The prepositions among and amongst both mean amidst, surrounded by or in the company of. They can be used interchangeably in the UK. In the US, amongst is very rare and is only really used in literary prose seeking to add a sense of the old fashioned. Most in the US would consider the use of amongst to be wrong in a formal document.

Only Americans Should Avoid Amongst

In the UK, life is easy. Brits can choose whichever version they think sounds better to them.

Some examples:
  • Truth springs from argument amongst friends.
    (Scottish philosopher David Hume, 1711-1776)
  • To put a cat amongst the pigeons.
    (Note: A well-known saying which means to cause a stir.)
  • Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.
    (W.H. Auden, 1907-1973)
  • Man is an animal which, alone among the animals, refuses to be satisfied by the fulfilment of animal desires.
    (Alexander Graham Bell, 1847-1922)
  • Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.
    (American writer and producer Jane Wagner)

A Video Summary

Watch a video showing 10 big differences between British English and American English.

Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? while or whilst What are prepositions? List of easily confused words