We say "It is his mistake." "It is Alex's mistake." But if you want to say to two people that it is their mistake or it is not their mistake, do we not use the possessive form and say the following instead?

A. It is the mistake of both of you.

B. It is not the mistake of either of you.

I know that you can say "It is/not your mistake" and refer to two or more people, but what if I wanted to emphasize the two people I am speaking to and wanted to add "both" or "either"?

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    I don't see what is wrong with "It is not your mistake." – Mick Dec 6 '16 at 3:28
  • But what if you wanted to emphasize the two of them and add "both" or "either" ? – Ghaith Alrestom Dec 6 '16 at 3:29
  • English uses "your" as the second person singular possessive and the second person plural possessive. It's usually clear from context which it means. – John Feltz Dec 6 '16 at 3:29
  • If you were speaking to them individually, you could say "It is neither your nor Alex's mistake." – Mick Dec 6 '16 at 3:31
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    Then "It is [not] your mistake" is sufficient. You could, instead talk about blame: "You are both to blame" or "Neither of you is to blame." Otherwise, you will need to use the circumlocutions in your question. – Mick Dec 6 '16 at 3:35

A. It is the mistake of both of you.

B. It is not the mistake of either of you.

Neither sound particularly natural to me, and in day to day English, would probably use different words to express my feelings on the matter.

  • Both of you are responsible.
  • Both of you are to blame.
  • Both of you are at fault.

Or if not assigning blame:

  • Neither of you are responsible.
  • Neither of you are to blame.
  • Neither of you are at fault.

Having said that, if you are really tied to the word 'mistake' in your response, then the following conveys that more than one party is at fault/not at fault.

  • Both of you made a mistake.

  • Neither of you made a mistake.


Try "were mistaken." The concept [is the mistake] [of you] can be concisely rendered either:

  1. you made a mistake
  2. you were mistaken

Your first example:

A. Both of you made that mistake.
A. You both made that mistake.
A. Both of you were mistaken.
A. You were both mistaken.

To clarify even further that we are discussing two people acting together (rather than separately) on a single decision, add "together":

A. Both of you made that mistake together.

Your second example:

B. Neither of you made that mistake.
B. Neither of you was mistaken.

To clarify that this was a single collective decision, do not use neither (not either). Instead, use "you two ... not" or "both of you ... not"

B. You two didn't make that mistake.
B. You two were not mistaken.

You might also change from talking about who made the mistake and instead talk about who is responsible for or to blame for the mistake.

Neither of you was responsible for that mistake.
You two were both to blame for that mistake.


To attribute blame to both, one might say

It's both of yours mistake.
You are both to blame.
It's either of yours fault.

If one wanted to absolve both of them, one might say

It's neither of yours mistake.
Neither of you are to blame.
It's neither of yours fault.

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    "both of yours" / "neither of yours" often sounds incorrect, even to native speakers -- and "both of your" can also sound incorrect. It is commonly re-ordered to avoid this, e.g. "It is the mistake of both of you." – JeremyDouglass Dec 6 '16 at 20:29

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