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I've learnt that

  • Entre is used when there is question of two;
  • Parmi is used with a collection of objects and always demands after it a plural noun or a collective noun.

I recall our professor said that we can think about the English respective words 'between' and 'among'.

Apparently, I must be missing several things because I have noticed several times native speakers using entre whereas the logical choice would be parmi.

  1. What are the differences between entre et parmi?

  2. When can't we use the former in the place of the latter and vice versa?

  3. When can we interchangeably use one in the place of other?

  4. I am quite sure that entre is used more in colloquial speech even in cases that require parmi. The latter is considered more formal. Is my conjecture correct?

  5. Can one say that there is one-to-one correspondance between 'entre and between' and 'parmi and among'?

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    Dimitris, you should provide examples in French since you claim that you have seen/heard entre and parmi being used interchangeably. It is sometimes necessary to pay careful attention to your questions as they are sometime influenced by French usage. [for example: indifféremment is not indifferently here; it's interchangeably]. Oui, à un niveau basique, entre, between et parmi, among.
    – Lambie
    Nov 19, 2021 at 16:56
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    This sums it up nicely (I think...). There's this one as well. Have you read them yet? Anything that it says you don't understand? Si c'est insuffisant et que tu veux aller plus loin tu peux lire cet article de linguistique sur le sujet. An answer here won't tell you more on the subject.
    – None
    Nov 19, 2021 at 17:12
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    Comme l'a dit Lambie, ici il vaudrait mieux que tu donnes des cas où tu hésites sur l'emploi de l'un ou de l'autre, ou que tu donnes des phrases où quelqu'un t'a dit que tu te trompais sans savoir t'expliquer.
    – None
    Nov 19, 2021 at 17:16

1 Answer 1

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I am not a native English speaker, but from my understanding - and after reading the difinition here - I don't see any counterexample of "between->entre" and "among->parmi". Your definitions are correct but could be slightly expanded.

"Entre" s'utilise principalement lorsqu'il y a 2 éléments, mais aussi pour insister sur la position ("Il est passé entre les mailles du filet. Il est assis entre deux chaises.") ou lorsque le groupe est très restreint et inclusif ("Que cela reste entre nous.")

"Parmi" concerne de plus grands groupes, qui sont généralement moins bien définis ("C'est un choix parmi d'autres. / J'ai trouvé cet objet parmi les décombres.")

Si je comprends bien, ce sont bien les mêmes nuances en anglais. Et comme toujours avec les nuances, il existe des cas ambigus à propos desquels il est possible de discuter longuement. Je dirais que cette marge (là où "entre" et "parmi" sont interchangeables) se situe dans les petits groupes avec soit une composante de position faible ("Je me faufile entre les requins." vs "Je nage parmi les requins.) ou une composante d'inclusion faible ("Il faut garder ce secret entre nous" vs "Il y a un traître parmi nous.")

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