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Bill Bennett

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Among and amongst

Modern newspaper style books tell journalists to use among, not amongst.

Unlike many style book rules, this one applies on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in Australia and New Zealand.

While both words are technically correct, amongst is regarded as old-fashioned and may soon be obsolete.

My 40 year old copy of the Oxford Concise Dictionary offers the two words as alternatives.

According to the Oxford Dictionaries web site, no-longer online, among is “chiefly British”. This surprised me.

I checked my own work – almost 30,000 documents – and found I’ve used the word ‘amongst’ about 120 times compared with ‘among’ about 800 times. However, in recent years the ratio is much lower.

The Cambridge dictionary thinks Amongst is “more formal”. Merrian-Webster says people use amongst to sound more educated.

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