Writing for Business

Apr 15 2010   5:04PM GMT

Between or among

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?
There are three FDCC seminars this week; you can choose ______ Wednesday afternoon, Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
a. among
b. between

Answer: Either.


Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty explains the finer points of choosing between between and among:

“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.
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.

On the other hand, you use ‘among’ when you are talking about things that aren’t distinct items or individuals; for example, if you were talking about colleges collectively you could say, ‘She chose among the Ivy League schools.'”

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