I know that "between" is used when the individual items are specified and "among" is used when they are not. Ref:
https://www.grammarly.com/blog/between-among/ . Examples:

  • I need to choose between Yale, Oxford and Stanford.
  • I need to choose among these universities.

Based on that, "among us" should be correct and "between us" incorrect, but I am not sure this is always valid. For instance:

  • Let's keep it between us.
  • Let's keep it among us.

Both sound correct to me. Is that right? If so, is it an exception or have I misunderstood the rule used to choose between "between" and "among" ?

  • Does this answer your question? Between or Among
    – EllieK
    Feb 19, 2021 at 14:43
  • @EllieK No, that answer leads me to belive that "among us" is the only correct choice because "us" is one specific group, not specific entities of the group. Feb 19, 2021 at 16:30
  • I need to choose among these universities, is not something one would read/hear without supporting context. You and your listener would know the universities. In which case you would be saying the same thing as your sentence listing the universities. Your example is flawed.
    – EllieK
    Feb 22, 2021 at 16:29
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Between them vs Among them
    – user153499
    Apr 23 at 9:04
  • Related question on our sister site EL&U: “between” vs. “among”
    – ColleenV
    Apr 25 at 16:01

3 Answers 3


Between strongly implies either/or.

I need to choose between Yale, Oxford, and Stanford (you need to choose exactly one of either Yale, or Oxford, or Stanford).

Between also might be used to imply that you're giving up something by choosing something else.

Among X is simply saying what your pool of choices are. It can be used in something less rigid than either/or, but is OK to use in a strict either/or situation as well.

I need to choose among the chocolate, coconut, or caramel ice cream flavors (You can choose more than one).

  • Thanks for the answer, but it focuses only on my initial examples and does not deal with my main question (keep it between us / keep it among us). Nov 27, 2019 at 10:48

Between can be used when you have distinct individual choices(options) which is usually about 2/3 choices where Among can be used when you have (the number of groups containing) choices(options) more than 3.

For eg.

I have to choose between Berklee or Yale.

The decision of choosing an appropriate university among the given list was literally difficult.

  • When you're a group of friends having some secret about your professor at that time you can tell in the group that Let's keep it among us. While with your single friend you can tell him/her that Let's keep it between us. Nov 27, 2019 at 11:38

"Let's keep it between us / among us."

This is not idiomatic. This is preposterous to the natives. Usual grammatical rule is not applicable here.

Instead, one should say :

Let's keep it between you and me.

Let's keep it between you and us.

Let's keep it between ourselves.

[ BETWEEN OURSELVES : (AmE.) = 'between you and me', meaning : 'in confidence', 'as a secret'. Source : Collins Dictionary ]

  • 2
    "Let's keep it among us" is not idiomatic. Some native speakers might mistakenly say it when they are over-correcting themselves (like inappropriately using "I" instead of "me"), but "Just between {us/you and me/you and me and the bedpost/etc}." is an idiom and the regular "rules" of among and between don't apply.
    – ColleenV
    May 1, 2020 at 20:37
  • @ColleenV, thank you for your valuable opinion. May 1, 2020 at 22:03
  • For a shared secret (for example) we would always say ‘between us’, perhaps because we are joined by a shared secret rather than the secret being an entity in itself that is part of a group.
    – Frog
    Oct 31, 2021 at 10:34

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