Islands lie amid important sea lines of communication.

Is this correct? Or should I use 'among' or choose a different grammar pattern altogether? Amid is used for uncountable nouns, whereas among is used for countable ones, but to me 'amid' sounds more appropriate in this case. Especially since amid often denotes position (which is what I need here) and among implies mingling.

I've seen a similar question with amid/among sound/sounds. There someone said: "It's probably better not to regard 'amid the sounds of the crowd' as a count usage, as inclusion of a numeral would be unnatural." So I guess amid can be used with countable nouns as well in certain cases.

How about:

Islands lie in the midst of important sea lines of communication.

or should I go with:

Islands are surrounded by important sea lines of communication.

Any advice is much appreciated.

  • Amid works better for 2 or 3 dimensional situations. Whether you mean shipping lanes or undersea cables, these are linear, and I would use lie adjacent to or lie along, not lie amid.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 22:06

1 Answer 1


Quoting Allen S's answer at the mentioned thread,

Garner’s Modern English Usage characterizes “amid” as implying [purely] position and “among” as implying a mingling. “Amid” and its variant “amidst” are regarded as somewhat quaint, according to that source. Garner prefers the more wordy “in the midst of”, citing its more common usage and its pleasant cadence.

So 'amid/st' is the more clinical, while 'among/st' is more informal, even more intimate. I don't think that's quite warranted here, even if we're talking about the Friendly Islands.

'In the midst of' is apparently more modern-sounding, but I'd still go with 'amid' here. 'In the midst of' has more a connotation of overcrowding, to my mind.


'Sea lanes' sounds more natural than 'sea lines of communication' to my ears, but I'll try to filter that out.

While 'Islands lie amid important sea lines of communication.' is totally grammatical and uses the more appropriate preposition, there is still something a little jarring to my senses. But I can well imagine 'de-jarring' prior context of varying forms:

But islands are no longer truly isolated....


Important sea lanes of communication often involve long deviations from great-circle routes....


There is no a priori reason to rephrase. But perhaps fronting 'sea lanes of communication' (if these are the real focus of the passage) is more appropriate.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.