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Write the Right Word: Between, Among, Either, Neither

Despite the way they often are used, “among” and “between” are not interchangeable.

“Between” expresses the relationship of two - repeat, two - people or things or two sets of people or things. For example: “I had to decide between lasagna and chicken.” “Negotiations are under way between XYZ Co. officials and the company’s pipefitters and mechanics.” In this case, the pipefitters and mechanics are considered one group of employees.

Use “among” when expressing the relationship of three or more people or things. For instance: “The profits from the sale of the business were divided among the four owners.”

“Either” and “neither” also indict a relationship of two things or people. But be careful how you use them.

Don’t use “either” or “neither” in a sentence that includes the two things or people. Use them only when the people or things you are talking about are clear from the context. For example: “I can’t decide whether I want chocolate or vanilla ice cream. Either would be fine.”

Do not say, “I can’t decide whether I want either chocolate or vanilla ice cream.” You don’t need the “either” because you are listing the options.

The same rule applies to “neither.” For instance: “My lunch choices are tacos or pizza. Neither appeals to me today.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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