Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha.
In this lesson, I'm going to talk about the differences between "amid," "among" and "between." I'm also going to talk a little bit about some old-fashioned uses of these words too.
Let's get started!
All right, I want to begin this lesson by talking about the word "amid."
So, "amid" refers to being surrounded by something and it refers to being in a condition. So, when we use the word amid, it's not like we're talking about many different objects, but rather, we're talking about being in a condition or being in a situation. So you can imagine yourself surrounded by a condition or being inside a condition. That's when we use this word.
The second point is that "amid" is a rather formal word. From these words, I'm going to talk about today, "amid" is the most formal. You may also know the word "amidst." This is quite formal and we really don't use it that much. It sounds kind of archaic which means "old fashioned" or like "old-style English." You might see this word in like poems or in maybe books that were written a long time ago. We don't use this word very much today, but "amid" generally does sound more formal, more polite.
We use "amid" then, with uncountable nouns and these uncountable nouns are often like abstract nouns, so they're often like an idea or a concept instead of an object, specifically.
So, let's take a look at a few examples of this.
First one:
"I lost my keys amid the confusion at the end of the party."
So here, "amid" comes before the noun, "the confusion." So confusion, this is not an object. This is an abstract noun. This is an idea, confusion, a confused condition. So we imagine being inside this confusing situation or this condition of confusion, I lost my keys. So, we use it in this way so it's like an abstract kind of concept. We're not talking about being inside like a physical thing, but we're inside, like a concept.
Let's look at one more example.
"Her nervousness disappeared amid the excitement of the party."
So here, my noun is "excitement," the excitement of the party. So we imagine being at a party and it's an exciting condition. So we can say excitement, so "amid the excitement" means being inside the condition of like an exciting situation. "Her nervousness disappeared," so that means she was nervous before the party, maybe, but because she was inside this condition of excitement, amid the excitement, her nervous feelings disappeared, her nervousness disappeared because she was in this condition.
Okay, one more example:
"They chose to cancel our project, amid growing concern about the company budget.
Here, my noun is "concern," growing concern, so we can use "concern" as both a singular and as a plural form like in the singular and the plural form, but here, I'm using concern as like an abstract idea, so that doesn't mean like a specific person's concern or a specific person's, like problem, but I'm talking specifically or rather, nonspecifically about like everybody, like the whole company's idea or the whole company's, like worry about the situation, so we can use concern in this way.
Here, I've added this modifying word too, "growing concern." So I'm showing that the concern in the company is getting bigger. So, inside this situation, inside like increasing or growing concern, in this situation, our project was cancelled or they chose to cancel our project, so because of this grow, this growing concern about the company budget in this case.
So, you'll notice in each of these, I'm using this very abstract idea, so "confusion," "excitement," or "concern." I'm not talking about, like an object here. So you'll notice "amid" usually follows something similar. We're using these very conceptual nouns with "amid."
Okay, so with that in mind, with our very formal word in mind, I want to continue to the next word for this lesson which is "among."
So, I have two points here because there are, kind of, two common ways that we use "among," a couple of patterns that are common.
First, we use "among" when we want to refer to being surrounded by things. So, this is different from "amid." Remember, we use "amid" to talk about a condition or a situation. Here, "among" is more used for objects or maybe other people. So these are, these are actual, like tangible. We can touch these things. They're not abstract.
Second, we use "among" when we're, like talking about having many options. So when we refer to having many options or refer to having many choices, so when there are many different things to choose from, we often use the word "among" to kind of make our question. I'll show you an example of this.
Okay, "among" is less formal than "amid," so you will probably see this more commonly or you'll see this more often than the word "amid." Like "amid," as we talked about with "amidst," this kind of old-fashioned archaic word, "among" also has one. The word is "amongst," but just like with "amidst," this word is not used very much and it can sound quite old fashioned, so it's going to sound like contemporary modern regular English today if you use "among." So, don't worry about using "amongst." You may see it from time to time, but it has an older feel about it.
Okay, when we're using the word "among" then, we use it with countable nouns in the plural form. This is how you'll see it used so let's take a look at some examples of this.
First:
"He spent a year living among monks at a temple."
So here, I have "among." My noun is monks. So these are people who live at temples in this case and we see here with the S, I'm using the plural form. So, monk is a countable noun and the plural form takes an S here.
So, "He spent a year living among..." so this means he was one person and he was surrounded by monks at a temple. So, "among" tells us this, "among" tells us this situation.
We would not say "amid" here because "amid" plus this countable noun, that's like people, sounds unnatural. It doesn't sound right. We use "amid" to talk about conditions. So, "among" sounds much better because we're talking about people or objects and "he" in this case is one from those people that he's surrounded by.
Let's look at another example.
"We saw a dog among the people in the crowd."
So, "a dog among," in this case, my noun is "the people." So we can use "among to refer to, like groups of people. We can use it to talk about, like a class or a crowd or a team, for example. So, we understand that that's a group, yes, but it's made up of individuals. So it sounds quite natural to use that.
Here, we have "the people," in this case, it's a crowd of people. So we know that there are many people and "the dog" is one object or one creature that's inside this group, so, a dog among people. Again, we would not use "amid" here, "amid the people." It sounds better to use "among" because we want to emphasize the individuals there, in the group.
Okay, finally, I want to end with an example that shows us point two that I talked about when we have many options or choices. So, here, I've made a simple sentence, a simple question.
"From among these classes, which do you think is the most useful?"
"From among these classesโ€ฆ," so imagine in this case, maybe you're showing someone a book or some kind of guide from your university or school and you're asking for a recommendation, a new point "from these classes." Maybe, you're looking at a group of classes and you say, "from these," specifically like this group, which do you think is the most useful.
So, we use "among" in this case when we're talking about many choices. So, we're not talking about two, actually. We use "between" for two, which I will talk about in just a moment. But when you have a group of things to choose from, you can use "among" to ask someone a question. Like, "From among these classes..." or "From among these flavors, which do you like the best?"
So, if you have a large number of something like more than two or like three, four, five, that's fine, you can use "among." I've also put (from) in parenthesis here. Sometimes, native speakers will drop the "from" here. You'll hear, "among these classes" or as we'll talk about later, we see the same thing with between, but you might hear this part either very short like "from," or you might hear it dropped completely like "Among these classes, which do you think is the most useful?" So, we can use this when we're asking for recommendations, we're asking for preferences. So this is how we use "among."
All right, let's continue on to the last word for this lesson which is "between."
So, "between" also has two points I want to talk about today. The first is it refers to being in the middle of two other things. So, if I imagine like I want to make a sentence about the blue marker, I can say, "The blue marker is between the red markers." So this refers to being in the middle of two other objects, so this is point one.
Second, we use it when we're making decisions from two options. So I mentioned when we talked about "among" that we use "among" when we have, like a group of options, we have many options. If; however, you have two options, you can use "between" to make the question, to ask about a preference or to ask for a recommendation.
So, "between" can be casual or it can be formal. It just depends on the situation. It depends on the conversation. And something special about between, we can use "between" with this pattern, this [two + a plural noun]. I'll show you an example of this.
So first, I want to talk about point one here, some examples with point one.
First:
"I dropped my wallet between the desk and the wall."
"Between the desk and the wall." So here, there are two things, two nouns, "the desk" and "the wall." So, that means the wallet is in the middle of those two objects. If my desk is here and the wall is here, my wallet is in the middle of those two. So, I dropped my wallet between A and B in this case. So that shows us something is in the middle of something else.
Second, this uses this kind of "two" pattern I mentioned.
"We parked our car between two ferraris."
So here, this follows a different pattern, "between two" and "ferraris," this is in the plural form. So a ferrari is an expensive car, a sports car. So here, I'm using "two ferraris." So this shows that on both sides of our car, there was a ferrari, so one on this side and one on this side. So, it sounds better to say "two ferraris" than "We parked our car between a ferrari and a ferrari." That sounds a little bit unnatural. Instead, we would say, "I parked my car between two ferraris." So, if they are the same thing, if both sides are the same thing, you can use this [two + the plural noun] pattern.
Okay, finally, about point number two here, when you're making a decision or you're trying to ask for a recommendation or something, we can use this "between" pattern very similar to "among."
So the sentence is:
"From between these two colors, which do you think is better for the room?"
So imagine you're choosing paint for a room. "From between these two colors, which do you think is better?" So we use "between" when there are two options. So like, "From between these, which do you like best?" or "From between these flavors, which do you think is spicier?" So we use this "between" for two choices and we use "among" more for like many choices, three or more.
So, again, with "between," you'll often hear people drop this "from" and just begin by saying "Between this two, which do you like?" So, you can choose to include "from" or not. It's quite casual to drop the "from" at the beginning of a sentence like this. So if you have two choices, it sounds really nice to use "between" to offer those choices, to introduce them.
Okay, so, I hope that that helps you understand the differences between "amid" and "among" and "between." If you have any questions or if you have comments or if you want to practice making an example sentence with these words, please feel free to do so in the comment section of this video. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye!

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Pablo
Friday at 01:27 AM
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Great explanation about the differences between among and amid! Thank you for share the video!

Monica
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Hi I just want to know if I will get a certificate when I finish my classes.thanks for answering