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bongalak
10-23-2011, 11:29 AM
What is the difference, if any, between among and amongst? When do you use which one?

Izhitsa
10-23-2011, 03:25 PM
What is the difference, if any, between among and amongst? When do you use which one?
'There is no demonstrable difference of sense or function between the two, and the distribution is puzzling except that amongst seems to be somewhat less common in AmE than in BrE.' (The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, 1996)

'Prefer among to amongst.' (The Economist Style Guide, 2005)

If I were American, I would use among.

Snick
10-23-2011, 05:06 PM
The difference is that "amongst" has two unnecessary letters.

Determination
10-23-2011, 06:36 PM
There is no difference except that amongst sounds more formal and old fashioned. I'd probably use it if I was writing a historical or if my character was extremely pompous.

Purple Rose
10-23-2011, 07:43 PM
Amongst is still used quite commonly in Commonwealth countries where the tendency is to us a more traditional form of (British) English.

I agree that if you are writing for an American audience, using American spelling, then you should use among.

bongalak
10-23-2011, 08:47 PM
Thanks guys. I've always suspected that among was the more practical of the two, not to mention slightly easier on the tongue. Good to know I can forget amongst for good.

davem
10-24-2011, 05:30 AM
Amongst sounds old and stuffy.

AnWulf
10-24-2011, 08:56 AM
There is no difference except that amongst sounds more formal and old fashioned. I'd probably use it if I was writing a historical or if my character was extremely pompous.

Oddly enough, among is the older form.

While, among, and amid are much older that their -st siblings. I quote:

While is recorded from early 13c.; whilst is from late 14c., with excrescent -st as in amongst, amidst.

amongst - a variant of among, mid-13c., amonges, from among with adverbial genitive. Parasitic -t first attested 16c

amidst - a variant of amid with adverbial gen. -s and parasitic -t. Amidde became amyddes (13c.) and acquired a -t by 1560s, probably by association with superlatives in -st.

bonitakale
10-24-2011, 06:41 PM
Like "whilst," "amongst" is not used in the US, but it is in other countries. It would only be used for a special effect, here.

Jamesaritchie
10-24-2011, 11:44 PM
Whilst and amongst are both used widely in US regional speech and writing. The real difference is simply aesthetics and regionalism. The correct choice, then, is whichever sounds best to your ear.

bonitakale
10-25-2011, 06:53 PM
Whilst and amongst are both used widely in US regional speech and writing. The real difference is simply aesthetics and regionalism. The correct choice, then, is whichever sounds best to your ear.

My God, really? What regions?

AnWulf
10-27-2011, 06:06 AM
I agree with Bonitakale ... What region in the US is amongst and whilst the norm? I've seen them used on occasion ... but, by and large, folks in the US use among and while.

absitinvidia
10-27-2011, 06:54 AM
I'm pretty sure JAR's comment is based on the Webster's Guide for English Usage, but without attribution, I can't be certain. If that is the case, as I recall, Webster's said it is used regionally but it is rare, not common. My apologies if I'm mistaken.

darkelf
10-27-2011, 08:27 AM
I use it in speech regularly. I'm in Massachusetts, south of Boston. Typically I use amongst in a past tense, for example 'I was amongst friends', while I would say 'I am among friends'.

I think this is a regional usage, and there are quite a few other words in my normal speech patterns that my spouse finds unusual. I don't notice them until pointed out, as they sound normal to me.

I will also note that many UK or Canadian spellings look normal to me. For example, honour, theatre, and grey (to me grey and gray are two different colors).

pandaponies
10-27-2011, 08:42 AM
I use it in speech regularly. I'm in Massachusetts, south of Boston. Typically I use amongst in a past tense, for example 'I was amongst friends', while I would say 'I am among friends'.

I think this is a regional usage, and there are quite a few other words in my normal speech patterns that my spouse finds unusual. I don't notice them until pointed out, as they sound normal to me.

I will also note that many UK or Canadian spellings look normal to me. For example, honour, theatre, and grey (to me grey and gray are two different colors).
REPRESENT. American here and I use amongst/whilst, theatre, and grey. Gray is such an ugly word. Grey is lovely.

Admittedly, I'm more likely to use amongst/whilst in writing than in speech, but either is fair game. I'm rather fond of both. They're "prettier." <3

AnWulf
10-27-2011, 11:00 AM
If you use amongst, whilst, grey, colour ... and you're not from the UK or the Commonwealth ... then you're an anglophile because those are not the norm in the US. And that's ok, I'm all about choices. For byspel, when I do write color, I choose not use the Old French spelling of the Latin color.

BTW, gray comes from OE gręg so either spelling has a history.

The OED also has: n. (usu. Gray) the Confederate army in the Civil War, or a member of that army.

And the "grey" in greyhound ... has nothing to do with color.

backslashbaby
10-27-2011, 03:22 PM
My grandmother, who had a very thick local NC dialect, did use to say amongst, never among (she never said whilst, though). It wasn't a word that came up often, but it was one of those she used that just sounded so old.

bonitakale
10-27-2011, 04:13 PM
Okay, old North Carolina, Massachusetts, and pandaponies, who likes some of the same books I do, but doesn't give a location. Hmm.

I know what you all mean about "grey," which is the color of cats, while "gray" is the color of battleships. But I still correct "grey," because it's not really right in the US.

But don't get me started on "theatre," which is just plain right in the UK and Canada, but just plain pretentious in the US. Reminds me of the places that add an "e" and think it looks somehow richer or fancier. (There's a nursing home near us called Grande Pointe. Argh. Shall we go to Burgere Kinge, darling?)

darkelf
10-27-2011, 08:36 PM
If you use amongst, whilst, grey, colour ... and you're not from the UK or the Commonwealth ... then you're an anglophile because those are not the norm in the US.

Just because it is not the norm in your area does not make it true for the entire country. An anglophile is an intentional altering of the norm in imitation of the UK. Where I live, many of these spellings, not all mind you, are the norm. Colour is wrong to me. Honour is correct. Much of this, to me, relates to how the words are pronounced here, and also how they are used. For example, I would go to a movie theater, but the Wang Center is in the Theatre District.

I also don't find these usages pretentious. That would imply only a few people use them. When everyone you know uses those words or spellings in everyday speech, I hardly think of that as putting on airs.

backslashbaby
10-28-2011, 12:36 AM
Okay, old North Carolina, Massachusetts, and pandaponies, who likes some of the same books I do, but doesn't give a location. Hmm.

I know what you all mean about "grey," which is the color of cats, while "gray" is the color of battleships. But I still correct "grey," because it's not really right in the US.

But don't get me started on "theatre," which is just plain right in the UK and Canada, but just plain pretentious in the US. Reminds me of the places that add an "e" and think it looks somehow richer or fancier. (There's a nursing home near us called Grande Pointe. Argh. Shall we go to Burgere Kinge, darling?)

:D

Oh, Gray/Grey is my dad's middle name, and I never know how we spell the word or the name!

missf410
10-28-2011, 06:19 AM
I tend to use both amongst and among, but I blame that mostly on being a poet. I have a tendency to play with the way things sound out loud, but especially on paper. If I dress it up a little and make it flow better then I will. Whilst, though, is on its own.

She stood amongst the ruins.... (or)
She stood among the ruins

Which has a better flow to you?

jaksen
10-28-2011, 07:14 AM
I use it in speech regularly. I'm in Massachusetts, south of Boston. Typically I use amongst in a past tense, for example 'I was amongst friends', while I would say 'I am among friends'.

I think this is a regional usage, and there are quite a few other words in my normal speech patterns that my spouse finds unusual. I don't notice them until pointed out, as they sound normal to me.

I will also note that many UK or Canadian spellings look normal to me. For example, honour, theatre, and grey (to me grey and gray are two different colors).

I'm south of Boston, too, and very old. I have never heard 'amongst' being used in ordinary speech.

Though the closer one gets to Rhode Island....

AnWulf
10-28-2011, 07:35 AM
Just because it is not the norm in your area does not make it true for the entire country. An anglophile is an intentional altering of the norm in imitation of the UK. Where I live, many of these spellings, not all mind you, are the norm. Colour is wrong to me. Honour is correct. Much of this, to me, relates to how the words are pronounced here, and also how they are used. For example, I would go to a movie theater, but the Wang Center is in the Theatre District.

I also don't find these usages pretentious. That would imply only a few people use them. When everyone you know uses those words or spellings in everyday speech, I hardly think of that as putting on airs.

As a former soldier, I have lived and travelled in several parts of the country to include Massachusetts (Ft. Devens). I have good friends from there as well. Never have I seen an American, who wasn't an anglophile, use honour ... and that includes Americans in Massachusetts. Are you telling me that "honour" is taught in schools in Mass.? I find that hard to believe.

Honour is not the norm in the US.

"Honor - from Anglo-Fr. honour, O.Fr. honor (Mod.Fr. honneur), from L. honorem (nom. honos, later honor) of unknown origin. Till 17c., honour and honor were equally frequent; the former now preferred in England, the latter in U.S. by influence of Noah Webster's spelling reforms."

The -re on theatre is nothing more than commercial gimmick in the US since both theater and theatre are accepted. There is no difference in the meaning.

AnWulf
10-28-2011, 07:50 AM
I'm south of Boston, too, and very old. I have never heard 'amongst' being used in ordinary speech.

Though the closer one gets to Rhode Island....

The bigger problem nowadays is that between is often used, incorrectly, instead of among(st). I can't tell how many times I've heard something like: Between the three of us ...

Here is the usage that I was taught and try to follow:

Usage:
1 Between is used in speaking of two things, people, etc.: we must choose between two equally unattractive alternatives. Among is used for collective and undefined relations of usually three or more: agreement on landscaping was reached among all the neighbors. But where there are more than two parties involved, between may be used to express one-to-one relationships of pairs within the group or the sense 'shared by': there is close friendship between the members of the club; diplomatic relations between the US, Canada, and Mexico.
2 Between you and I, between you and he, etc., are incorrect; between should be followed only by the objective case: between you and me, between you and him, etc.