# gave them each a phone and a computer

a. I gave a phone and a computer to my two best students.

b. I gave them a phone and a computer.

c. I gave a phone and a computer to both of them.

d. I gave them both a phone and a computer.

Can we tell if

1. I gave them each a book and a notebook

or

1. I gave one a book and the other one a notebook

?

Many thanks

• Including both would normally imply they each got both things - but not infallibly (to be crystal clear on that point, use each rather than both, which could actually mean that you conferred joint ownership of both things to the students). The first two examples could reasonably be understood to mean either of your interpretations #1 and #2. Apr 19, 2018 at 17:30
• Why not say: "each of them" if that is what you mean? Apr 19, 2018 at 19:04
• I'm with Lambie on this one. The addition of "each" would make it much easier to read.. Apr 20, 2018 at 0:13

both is often used in conversation to mean "each of them".

I gave both an ice-cream cone and a napkin.

I gave them both an ice-cream cone and a napkin.

I gave each of them an ice-cream cone and a napkin.

But in formal texts, such as legal texts, both can be ambiguous.

I bequeath to both my villas in Tuscany, my Lear Jets, and the bushel of diamonds up in the attic.

To make it perfectly clear that you're not asking your two best students to share the computer and phone between them, you would have to say:

I gave a phone and a computer to each of my two best students.

All the sentences you provided sound as if you are giving both of the items to both of the people, especially with the use of "both"