Both or both of?

Euthanasia may be a good solution for both of patients and their families.

Both/both of follows the same rule as some/some of, all/all of, most/most of, etc. Elsewhere on GuruEAP you can listen to a song that includes examples of most of these (but not, I now realise, both/both of!), plus you can find another post showing how this kind of grammar can be useful in IELTS task 1 writing when describing statistical data.

As usual I suggest you approach this problem lexically – in other words pay close attention to the words (lexis) immediately following these signals. Here are some examples.

Both + plural count noun

  • Both systems serve quite different yet very important purposes.
  • The route map above displays both route options.
  • We had carefully paid cash both places.

Both of + plural object pronoun

  • The staff always remembers both of us!
  • Do sit down, both of you.
  • Both of them are very talented actors.

Both of + the/these/those + plural count noun

  • Both of the theories are probably correct.
  • Both of those sales were perfectly legal.
  • He was honouring both of these men.

Both of + possessive + plural count noun

  • This undoubtedly saved both of their lives.
  • My mom met both of my kids.
  • Industrial logging has hit both of our old growth rainforests hard.

Exceptions

If you’ve already mentioned the two things then you can use both without mentioning the two things for a second time. In this way you avoid repetition and include a bit of sophistication much loved by IELTS examiners. The following examples move from more repetitive to less repetitive.

  • I love both of my pets, but it’s hard work looking after both of my pets.
  • Primitive – unnecessary repetition of both of my pets.
  • I love both of my pets, but it’s hard work looking after both of them.
  • Better – pronoun them substitutes for my pets.
  • I love both of my pets, but it’s hard work looking after both.
  • Better still – both at the end of the sentence implies both of my pets.

You will also often hear people use both + possessive (without of)! However this is quite informal and generally not recommended. Both of the following examples are correct!

  • I love both of my pets.
  • I love both my pets.

Finally you will often see and hear both + verb, where of them has been left out!

  • I love both of my pets.
  • Both live in the same ‘pet house’ at the bottom of the garden.

Exercise

Now try this quick exercise.

Select words from the drop-down menus to complete the text. When you have finished, click 'Check your answers!' for feedback.

OK I understand

I studied for my postgraduate qualifications in England. required serious study and several times I almost gave up on . them were quite expensive and my parents were impressed by my determination to complete them. In cases, I felt as though I had aged 10 years by the end!

Answer Key

Answers here, but only if you're really stuck!

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