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