Commonly confused prepositions

Among / between

The words among and between are often confused. They have very similar meanings, but they are not usually interchangeable.

Between is used to show position between two or more well-defined objects.

Mary sat between Peter and Alice.

The boy sat between his dad and mom.

Among shows position among an indefinite number of objects. It is not exactly clear how many people or things are there in the group.

I found an envelope among the papers on the table.

Beside / besides

Beside and besides have very different meanings. Beside shows position. It means next to.

She sat beside her husband. (= She sat next to her husband.)

Besides means ‘in addition’.

Besides the violin, she can play the piano.

Besides eggs, we need some sugar.

I didn’t talk to anybody else besides Jane.


It is wrong to use also in the clause following besides.

Besides algebra, we learn physics and chemistry. (NOT Besides algebra, we also learn physics and chemistry.)

Around / about

Both around and about can be used to talk about position or movements that are not very clear or definite.

We wandered around / about the old town.

He hates doing odd jobs about / around the house.

Both around and about can mean approximately.

Around / about fifty people participated in the competition.

To show position or movement in a circle, we use around or round. About is not used with this meaning.

We sat around the dining table.

From / of

From indicates the origin of someone or something. Of indicates possession.

Susie hails from Belgium.

She is the daughter of a famous social activist.