Among or Amongst?

What Is the Difference between "Among" and "Amongst"?

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the quick answer

The Quick Answer

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 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 best 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)
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