1. general.
Between is an adverb (houses with spaces between) and a preposition (houses with spaces between them). We are concerned here with between as a preposition.
2. between and among.
Many people, and usage guides, cling to the idea (probably influenced by the use of between in relation to physical distance between points), that between is used when two people or things are involved and among must be invoked when more than two are involved. But this line is supported neither by the explanations of the OED nor by usage, which constantly refer to two or more parties:

• Does he sigh between the chimes of the clock? —J. M. Coetzee, 1977

• Things that had happened a long time since —between Isaac and myself —Nigel Williams, 1985.

• The death of his sister had changed things between Marcus, Ruth and Jacqueline —A. S. Byatt, 1985

• The programme is delivered through partnerships between all levels of government —Northern Rivers Echo News, AusE 2004.

There are, however, cases where among is the better word to use, normally when the underlying notion is of collectivity rather than separation:

• There were a lot of very young people among the temporary staff —Penelope Fitzgerald, 1980

• The UN…does have machinery designed to…keep the peace among nations —Christian Science Monitor, 1987.

Conversely, between and not among is used when there are only two people or things (as in the first 1985 example in the preceding paragraph), and when the people or things (of whatever number) are specified (as in the second 1985 example). Before reflexive pronouns (ourselves, themselves, etc) among and between are used interchangeably.
3. between…and….
Between should be followed by and, not other words such as or, as in the following examples:

• ☒[This] leaves Britain with the choice between being ruined by runaway inflation or by a series of disastrous strikes —Daily Telegraph, 1970

• My feet got so sensitive I could sense the difference between tarvia, gravel, or concrete immediately —Islander (Victoria, bc), 1972.

Similarly, it is important to say between 1914 and 1918, or from 1914 to 1918 (also expressed as 1914–18), not between 1914–18. See also from.
4. between each, between every.
Constructions such as 22 yards between each telegraph pole and pause between every mouthful are often deplored on the grounds that logical grammar calls for the addition of and the next to each group of words. Informally, however, this construction is typical and unexceptionable, although it is best avoided in more formal contexts. Examples:

• The 30-minute headway between each bus reduced to a 50-minute headway —Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 1970.

The construction between every two is ambiguous as to ‘between two’ and ‘between two pairs’, and is best avoided.
5. between you and i
though found in Shakespeare (but so is between you and him, not he), is an example of hypercorrection, influenced perhaps by the purist insistence on sentences of the type ‘Who's going?’ ‘Anne and I.’ (in which Anne and me is also possible). Since between governs both pronouns, the correct construction is between you and me, between you and us, etc.:

• Tiny bit boring, between you and me —Penelope Mortimer, 1962.

6. repeated between.
In long sentences, there is always a temptation to insert a second between as a reminder of what the statement is about: You need to decide between voting for a party which, against all advice, introduced the poll tax, a form of tax first used in the 14th century, and one that dislikes the rates system but has no alternative to offer. Putting a second between before one that dislikes is tempting because of the length of the sentence but it would be ungrammatical, and the sentence would be better recast.

Modern English usage. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Between — Be*tween , prep. [OE. bytwene, bitweonen, AS. betwe[ o]nan, betwe[ o]num; prefix be by + a form fr. AS. tw[=a] two, akin to Goth. tweihnai two apiece. See {Twain}, and cf. {Atween}, {Betwixt}.] 1. In the space which separates; betwixt; as, New… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • between — [bē twēn′, bitwēn′] prep. [ME bitwene < OE betweonum < be,BY + tweonum (dat. of * tweon); akin to Goth tweihnai, by twos, in pairs: for IE base see TWO] 1. in or through the space that separates (two things) [between the house and the… …   English World dictionary

  • between — between, among are comparable when they take as object two or more persons or things and indicate their relation (as in position, in a distribution, or in participation). Between in its basic sense applies to only two objects {between Scylla and… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • between — ► PREPOSITION & ADVERB 1) at, into, or across the space separating (two objects, places, or points). 2) in the period separating (two points in time). ► PREPOSITION 1) indicating a connection or relationship involving (two or more parties). 2) by …   English terms dictionary

  • Between C & D — (1983 1990) was a Lower East Side quarterly literary magazine edited by Joel Rose and Catherine Texier. Though a geographical reference from New York City, Between C D has also been suggested to mean between coke and dope , giving an indication… …   Wikipedia

  • between — O.E. betweonum between, among, by turns, Mercian betwinum, from bi by (see BE (Cf. be )) + tweonum dat. pl. of *tweon two each (Cf. Goth. tweih nai two each ). Between a rock and a hard place is from 1940s, originally cowboy slang. Between whi …   Etymology dictionary

  • Between — Between, GA U.S. town in Georgia Population (2000): 148 Housing Units (2000): 63 Land area (2000): 0.868533 sq. miles (2.249491 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.868533 sq. miles (2.249491 sq.… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Between, GA — U.S. town in Georgia Population (2000): 148 Housing Units (2000): 63 Land area (2000): 0.868533 sq. miles (2.249491 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.868533 sq. miles (2.249491 sq. km) FIPS code …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Between — Be*tween , n. Intermediate time or space; interval. [Poetic & R.] Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • between — index among, intermediate Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary