Between, among; by, beside, etc.

Between, among

1. We can use between with two people, while among is used for more than two people.

  • The money was divided between Rishma and Fareed.
  • Quraisha distributed the papers among the participants of the meeting.

2. We can use between with two or more people or things that we see as individual or separate. We use among when we see the people or things as part of a group or mass. You can’t say that you are among two people or things. Amongst is sometimes used instead of among, but is a more literary word.

Let’s look at some examples of how between and among are used as prepositions of place.

  • She held the diamond between her thumb and forefinger.
  • Zimbabwe is situated between Zambia to the north, Mozambique to the east, Botswana to the west, and South Africa to the south.
  • He stood among all his friends in the room and felt very happy.
  • She eventually found her passport among the clothes in the drawer.

3. Between and among are not only used as prepositions of place. To talk about something done to or by groups of things or people, we can use either between or among.

  • The money is to be divided between/among the towns in the area.
  • The prize will be shared between/among the first six finishers in the race.

However, if we specify individual members of the group using singular nouns, we use between rather than among.

  • The agreement was signed between China and Maldives
  • There was a disagreement between John, Thomas and Martin.

By, beside, close to, near (to), next (to)

These can be used in the meaning of ‘not far away’.

1. We can often use either near (to) or close to.

  • The plant grows close to / near (to) the banks of rivers.
  • We live close to / near (to) the forest.

2. We use beside, by, or next to to say that one thing or a person is at the side of another.

  • He sat beside/by/next to her with his legs crossed.
  • I pushed the button beside/by/next to the door but there was no answer.

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