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I have a question about the usage of "between" here:

Mason started three different quarterbacks during the first three games and four total last season. The first order of business for first-year offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig is to choose a quarterback between Johnny McCrary and Wade Freebeck.

Is "to choose to choose a quarterback between Johnny McCrary and Wade Freebeck" a little off? Dictionaries suggest that the usage pattern of "between" should be:

choose between X and Y

, but not:

choose something between X and Y

So, would this rewrite, replacing "between" with "from among" :

The first order of business for first-year offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig is to choose a quarterback from among Johnny McCrary and Wade Freebeck.

be a little better?

  • ... choose between Johnny and Wade for quarterback. ... choose Johnny or Wade for quarterback. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 11 '17 at 21:01
  • @TRomano So, the original is poorly written? – meatie Feb 11 '17 at 22:35
  • It is all bolixed up. We might choose a number between 1 and 10, but we don't choose a quarterback between Johnny and Wade. The choice may be between them. We can choose between them. But do we choose a quarterback between them? – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 12 '17 at 1:45
  • As always, meatie, one cannot tell if you are interested in the marginal for its own sake, or if you want to know how the great majority of speakers would express the idea in question. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 12 '17 at 12:12
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"Choose between x and y" is more common than "Choose z between x and y" but they are both correct usages in my opinion. I wouldn't use "choose z from among x and y" in this context (it sounds awkward) but I don't think it's technically incorrect.

An additional nuance here is that "from among" limits the set of options strictly to those delimited, whereas "between" can include intermediates if applicable. For example, "she picked a color from among blue and green" means she picked either blue and green, whereas "she picked a color between blue and green" means she picked neither green nor blue, but an intermediate shade.

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