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Aug 10 2012   12:24PM GMT

Can you use “between” when you’re talking about more than two things?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
Instead of choosing _______ Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud, people often use more than one cloud storage service.
a. between
b. among


Answer: a.

Explanation:
Although among isn’t strictly wrong, between is the better choice when you’re referring to a choice involving distinct entities, even if there are more than two. There’s a common grammar myth that you can only use the word “among” in reference to three or more items. In fact — as is so often the case — reality is a little more complicated than that.

@GrammarGirl explains:
“Here’s the deal: you can use the word “between” when you are talking about distinct, individual items even if there are more than two of them. For example, you could say, “She chose between Harvard, Brown, and Yale” because the colleges are individual items.
Relationships
The Chicago Manual of Style describes these as one-to-one relationships. Sometimes they are between two items, groups, or people, as in these sentences:

Choose between Squiggly and Aardvark.
Let’s keep this between you and me.

Other times they can be between more than two items, groups, or people as in these sentences:

The negotiations between the cheerleaders, the dance squad, and the flag team were going well despite the confetti incident.
The differences between English, Chinese, and Arabic are significant.”

Follow me on Twitter @tao_of_grammar

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