Amid and amidst sound so similar it can be easy to confuse them. They’re prepositions that both mean in the middle of or surrounded by. A preposition is a word that describes the relationship between two things in a sentence. The two words are interchangeable.
Grammatically, there’s no difference between the words amid and amidst. The primary distinction lies in when and where people use these words. Speakers of British English tend to use both amid and amidst. In contrast, speakers of American English tend to only use amid, but will sometimes use admist in literary writing or other formal contexts.
Here’s how amid functions in a sentence: “John looked for his friend amid the crowd”. This sentence means that John looked for his friend in the middle of the crowd. As a preposition, amid describes the relationship between John’s friend and the crowd.
The word amidst has the same meaning as amid, and it functions in the very same way. The above sentence has the same meaning if we substitute admidst for amid: “John looked for his friend amidst the crowd”.
Amidst and amid are sometimes confused with among. Among means to mingle or mix with discrete objects. For example, “Bob is walking among the trees.” In this example, Bob is walking, surrounded by trees, which are distinct and separate objects (countable objects). It’s incorrect (in terms of style) to say, “Bob is amid the trees.” Amid is reserved for cases where something is in the middle of a single thing or an uncountable object. To illustrate the difference: “Bob walked among the trees, amid the rain.” Essentially, among means he’s surrounded by distinct trees (a countable noun), while amid means he’s in the middle of the rain (an uncountable noun).
Amid and amidst are both prepositions that mean in the middle of. You can use these words interchangeably. However, amidst is more popular in British English or literary, formal writing. Amid tends to be the preferred choice for American English.
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