0

I've come across with instances where I use "between" when i should use "among" I've learnt that it's between two things, and it's among more than two things like, between you and I, among the three of us, etc.

Then, how come we say "between the teeth" when we're referring to more than two teeth?
So if there are 32 teeth in human, if I say between the teeth, am I referring to 30 spaces by saying "between the teeth"? (16 teeth up and down = 15 spaces in between)

3
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of “between” vs. “among” Dec 3 '19 at 16:55
  • 1
    I'm not sure whether this is covered at the candidate duplicate. 'Between my teeth' and 'between the teeth' are perhaps sufficiently fixed as phrases ('between the teeth' almost always being an idiom) that the general treatment at the claimed possible duplicate may not be sufficient here. But answers there are pretty thorough. Dec 3 '19 at 17:58
  • 2
    among the teeth means the teeth are not in mouth, but in a pile.
    – Lambie
    Dec 3 '19 at 22:43
2

'Between my teeth' may refer to two teeth (canine and molar, bit of celery stuck) or 'between my teeth' may refer to 'between two sets of teeth' (my upper set of teeth and my lower set of teeth, and I am biting on a large steak).

In both cases there are only two items in view : two individual teeth, or two sets of teeth.

To say 'among my teeth' means someone has punched me and knocked them all out and I am on my hands and knees, searching for my car keys among my teeth, so I can drive to the Hospital.

1
  • 1
    Indeed, in a pile somewhere or scattered about.
    – Lambie
    Dec 3 '19 at 22:45
0

I've never heard this phrase, save in two circumstances:

I've got something stuck between two teeth (a bit of food almost certainly) and I say 'I've got something stuck between my teeth'. We don't bother to specify which teeth or how many because no-one really cares (and I'm not good at identifying which teeth without a mirror and I don't care what they're called either).

'You've got the bit between your teeth' when someone is really working hard at something. 'The bit' refers to part of a horses harness which goes in their mouth, between the upper and lower jaw. That is, it's between one set of teeth and another. And yes, the origin doesn't quite square with the way I've learnt it, but that's language for you.

I can't think of any other circumstances where I've ever heard it used.

-1

You're right about usage of between versus among. It's very abused usage. Most speakers say between more than two things. "I have a dozen things to choose between" instead of "I have a dozen things to choose among."

That said, I can't think of an instance where between my teeth refers to more than two teeth. Even bit between your teeth refers to two sets of teeth. Even if more than two teeth are involved, "I have something among my teeth" sounds a bit creepy, as if something were crawling around your mouth.

I agree with others, that even in an instance where between my teeth involves more than two teeth, if any solecism is forgivable, then this one is.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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