Monet would have loved to stand his easel among the landscape. (The New York Times)

Since "landscape" is an abstract concept, shouldn't it be better to use "amid" in the sentence above?

Please, explain what is the difference between "among" and "amid" usage in reference to the case above, in which an abstract concept/mass noun is involved.

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    The NYT usage is unusual (wrong, inho), not because landscape is "abstract", but because it's singular. I don't much like amid either, to be honest (within seems much better), but it sounds really odd to me to speak of being among a single thing or location. Commented May 6, 2013 at 20:04

1 Answer 1


"Amid" implies "in the middle of", or at least a rough approximation of "somewhere in between" or "surrounded by" - I find it very rarely used, though. This usage is problematic because of "landscape" being something that is mass as you mentioned - it isn't really singular (though you could make the form plural without changing the meaning at all), but it isn't really plural either. Let's see what most people have used historically with an n-gram: Landscape usage n-gram

I tried out: among the landscape, amid the landscape, in the landscape, on the landscape,within the landscape

While all had usages (though very few), "in the landscape" was by far the most popular. To restate the original quote:

Monet would have loved to stand his easel in the landscape. (The New York Times)

Well, the meaning is certainly still the same, but I almost like the sound of the original quote better. I wasn't confused by it, and it didn't seem particularly wrong when I read it.

I also don't dislike your suggest of 'amid' because you would certainly be surrounded by landscape no matter where you stand. I think this is one of those times when a phrase is so unfamiliar, and a usage intended to be clearly artsy and flowery, that license is granted to the writer to say whatever seems to sound nice so long as it isn't blatantly nonsensical.


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