“Between” and “among” are two prepositions with similar meanings, but each has its own specific usage. The simplest way to break down this usage distinction is that “between” is used in instances in which the entities are distinct. For example:

The diplomatic talks between Norway and Sweden went smoothly.

Each country is named individually as its own entity, so “between” is the appropriate choice. A common misconception concerning these two prepositions is that “between” shows up when there are 2 entities and “among” is correct when there are more than 2 entities. This is not exactly accurate, however, as “between” is still the proper choice when there is a list of more than 2 entities named distinctly.

The diplomatic talks between Norway, Sweden, and Denmark went smoothly.

If the entities are not individually specified and are instead introduced as one group made up of smaller, unspecified parts, then “among” is used..

Peaches and bananas are among the smoothie maker’s favorite fruits.

Note that it is the object of the preposition, the noun named after the preposition, that determines which preposition is used – not the subject of the sentence, which appears before.

If the object of the preposition is a group of people, then “among” is the appropriate choice.

The water in the pitcher was divided between the two sisters.

The responsibility for finishing the group project was divided among the students.

A related note: If a pronoun is used after one of these prepositions, it must be in the correct case. A pronoun appearing as the object of the preposition “between” must be the object pronoun.

Between you and me, I don’t think she is a very talented performer.

The winnings were distributed evenly among us and them.

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