This week we discuss two prepositions—between and among. (As you know, a preposition links nouns, pronouns, and phrases to other words in a sentence. My 11th grade English teacher gave me this trick for determining whether a word is a preposition; if it fits into this sentence—“I ran [blank] the houses”—then it is a preposition.) As a general rule, “between” is used when the sentence involves two things or when it expresses a close relationship of any number of individual things, e.g.,
- The jury had to decide between awarding money damages and rescinding the contract.
- His attention was divided between baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie.
By contrast, “among” is generally used when the sentence involves more than two things and does not express a close relationship, e.g.,
- His present dalliance was just one among many.
- Dee’s estate was divided among her three children.
A more specific rule: “Between” is used to express one-to-one relations of many things, e.g., a treaty between four nations. “Among” is used to express collective and undefined relations, e.g.,
- In 1988, Hershiser was voted the best among all National League pitchers.
That is all for now …