Between or among?

At our last Editors’ Circle, we discussed some common grammar mistakes that almost everyone gets wrong, using this list as a starting point. Someone raised the issue of  when to use ‘between’ and ‘among’, which is not on the list.

The common rule is that  ‘between’ is used for two choices and ‘among’ for more than two.
For example: he is between two jobs; she divided the cake among the six of us.

However, it’s not simple as that.

You can also use ‘between’ when talking about distinct items even if they are more than two.
For example: The negotiations between the United Kingdom, Germany and France were going well.
But, The negotiations among the countries were going well.

As an aside, we all agreed that amongst should never be used in place of among – it’s just too old-fashioned. Similarly, we decided that ‘whom’ should be avoided at all costs. With whom did you meet? sounds old-fashioned. Rather simplify the sentence: Who did you meet?

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