Main Difference – Among vs. Amongst
The two prepositions among and amongst often confuse many of us because we are not sure of the difference between them. The difference between among and amongst is mainly stylistic. In other words, there is no semantic difference (change in meaning) between the two words. Both words are used in the sense ‘in the middle of’ or ‘surrounded by’. A slight difference, however, lies in the usage of the words. Among is more commonly used than amongst, and amongst is rarely used in American English. This can be defined as the main difference between among and amongst.
Among – Meaning and Usage
Among is a preposition meaning surrounded by or in the middle of. Out of the two prepositions, among and amongst, among is the most popular and it is important to note that amongst is a variant of among. Among can mean,
Situated in the middle of a group of things or people
The butterflies danced among the flowers.
He felt relieved as he was among his own countrymen.
Being a member or members of
An Indian woman was among the victims of this air crash.
They are among the most dangerous animal species of the world.
A division or choice between three or more people or things
The king decided to divide the kingdom among his three sons.
The prize had to be divided among the five members.
Amongst – Meaning and Usage
Amongst is also a preposition that has the same meaning as among. This is not commonly used compared to among. Amongst is rarely used in the US and this term is even considered to be old fashioned and archaic in American English. However, among is the older of the two prepositions, though amongst sounds old. The –st at the end of amongst was added around 16th century. At that time, s sounds were added to words (generally nouns) to make adverbs. The usage of the two words mainly depends on the context; if you are writing a formal, sophisticated text, amongst might be better suited for the context. Given below are some sentences that use amongst. If you read them carefully, you’ll see that amongst can be replaced by among.
Don’t worry, you are amongst friends.
A northerner amongst southerners, he felt ill at ease.
Amongst other things, he will finish his studies.
It is also important to notice that some grammar books state that amongst should be used after a vowel (as in the third example) However, this view is not supported by current usage.
Difference Between Among and Amongst
Among is more commonly used than amongst.
Amongst is rarely used compared to among.
Among is the older of the two prepositions.
Amongst appeared later and is a variant of among.
Among can be used in any context.
Amongst is considered bit formal and even archaic. Therefore, it is more suited for written language.