I’ve always been taught that the word “amid(st)” should be used exclusively with singular, specifically singular and uncountable nouns, especially those which express an abstract idea, (e.g. “His anxiety grew amid the confusion of the board room.”), while the word “among(st)” should be used with plural, countable nouns (e.g. “Among all her friends, Karen was the most self-righteous.”).
However, if you use Google search to perform a comparison of popular usage between the exact phrases “amid concerns” and “among concerns”—and “concerns” here is a plural, countable noun, which should use “among(st)”—it turns out that the former matches 2,300,000 results, while the latter (which is nominally “correct”) matches only 41,400 results. The comparison isn’t even close.
Is “amid concerns” a valid usage of “amid(st)”, despite its not being uncountable, because the word represents an abstract idea? Or is this instead a sort of deeply-entrenched hypercorrection in popular (not only colloquial language—Google also searches scientific papers, official documents, media, etc) written language, with its origin in analogy with the correct phrase “amid concern” (wherein the grammatically-correct singular, uncountable form is used to encapsulate any and all individual concerns)?
Edit:I’ve been asked about where I was taught this rule. To be honest, I only have hazy recollections of specific grammar rules taught to me over 30 years ago, and I couldn’t tell you specifically who taught this to me or when. At this point, it’s more something that I’ve completely internalized. However, in wondering about this question and doing a basic survey of answers on Google, I noticed several popular grammar guides teaching this “rule”. I’m not saying that it is correct or incorrect—in fact, my question is basically asking whether it is correct in the first place. (Note: I am not citing the below examples as definitive or “correct” sources, just as examples of the same popular conception that I seemingly inherited.)
Example 2 (although this page contradicts itself when it says “Amid is used when we talk about uncountable things”, with the example “…amid allegations of fraud”)
There are dozens of examples of this “rule”. Again, I am not saying it’s correct, just that somewhere along the line this was also imparted to me, and that’s why I’m here to ask about it.
I think my conclusion is that this “rule” is yet another example of overzealous and misinformed would-be grammarians creating unnecessarily stringent grammar rules.
It seems that “amid” can be used with both uncountable and countable nouns, while “among” can only be used with countable nouns. Furthermore, “amid” generally imparts more of a sense of aggregation or “against a background of” when used with either uncountable or countable nouns and is especially used with nouns that represent abstract ideas, whereas “among” generally imparts a sense of “in the company of” or “belonging”.