Several websites and forums researched today suggest that the words among and amongst can be used interchangeably. According to question 117 on Dr Grammar’s frequently asked questions: http://www.drgrammar.org/frequently-asked-questions#117 “both are correct and mean the same, but among is more common”.
According to a few other websites, among is used in American English and is also the ‘modern’ way in British English, whereas amongst appears to be the ‘old fashioned’ British English way. One such article explaining this has been written by Scott Ferguson. Amongst other things he suggests that “space constraints may have occasioned the drop of the final sound of amongst, with the print media shortening the word to among in the interest of brevity over the last century”. Read more at Suite101: When to Use Among or Amongst: The Difference Between Among and Amongst | Suite101.com http://scottferguson.suite101.com/when-to-use-among-or-amongst-a122032#ixzz1YF0l0lqw.
Before wrapping up this blog, I stumbled upon an excellent article on a website called Difference Between http://www.differencebetween.net/language/difference-between-among-and-amongst/, which put a whole new spin on things (and made me go back and change the word that I underlined in my last paragraph!). They write that “amongst, when used, should come at the beginning of sentences” for example: ‘Amongst the pigeons’, whereas if it’s present in mid-sentence “it should be used before words beginning with vowels”. This apparently strengthens the vowel if it is a weak one, for example, ‘Let’s sit amongst all the presents’ rather than ‘Let’s sit among all the presents’.
My thoughts: In summary, among and amongst are interchangeable, but among is more common nowadays. Whatever you decide from reading the above, remember to be consistent with how you use these words.
This blog started off very short today – just a few lines saying how both words mean the same thing. Everything changed when I started digging deeper. It has made me realise that although there are so many words out there that are interchangeable, people have written pages and pages about how they have been used differently over time – it’s all very interesting. I have 226 days left of my challenge to find more words like this!
That’s it for today. This blog forms part of my writing challenge. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page. Alternatively you can follow my blogs on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/madeirasandra or my new ‘Tips and Luxuries’ Facebook page. Requests for future blogs (punctuation/grammar/writing tips) are always welcome.
My writing challenge: http://wp.me/p1x6Ui-4
This blog: https://mywritingnotebook.wordpress.com
My other blog: http://sandramadeira.wordpress.com
My website: www.tipsandluxuries.com (includes the introduction to my upcoming book ‘A Gift for Stressed and Busy Parents’)
Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries
Dr Grammar’s frequently asked questions: http://www.drgrammar.org/frequently-asked-questions#117