0

How does 'both' function in the example below? Is the determiner modifying the entire noun phrase 'Jack and Jane'? I know this is correct English; however, in most examples, determiners only modify a single noun.

Both Jack and Jane got on the bus.

I think it's worth highlighting the difference between 'both' and 'the'. You could rewrite 'the fathers and mothers' as 'the fathers and the mothers', but you can't write 'both Jack and both Jane'. In my example, the 'both' only makes sense when it is used once.

4
  • "The fathers and mothers". "The boxes with lids". There are two cases where a determiner modifies a NP.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 4 at 10:45
  • Have you done any research into what a determiner is? The first paragraph of the Wikipedia page on determiners, for instance, tells you that determiners can act on noun phrases.
    – gotube
    Oct 4 at 18:30
  • Apologies. I thought that I had already checked this. You are correct, and it does reference 'both' specifically. However, I think it's worth highlighting the difference between 'both' and 'the' (mentioned by Colin). You could rewrite 'the fathers and mothers' as 'the fathers and the mothers', but you can't write 'both Jack and both Jane'. In my example, the 'both' only makes sense when it is used once.
    – MJ Ada
    Oct 4 at 18:40
  • I'm not sure this isn't a false premise. "Both" is not a determiner in this sentence. If it were "Both children got on," then sure. But in the construction "both ... and," both words are conjunctions. wordtype.org/of/both , aje.com/arc/editing-tip-proper-use-term-both Oct 17 at 21:26
3
+50

Some consider both words in both... and conjunctions:

The conjunctions should be carefully positioned and their conjoined elements should be well balanced. That is, what follows both and what follows and should have the same grammatical form.

whereas others differentiate them:

Both is paired with and to add emphasis to two coordinated elements in a sentence. Both is a focusing adverb; and is a coordinator. Together, they are a "correlative conjunction".

Chambers seems to agree with the latter:

both adj, pronoun (sometimes both of something) the two; the one and the other

  • She burnt both hands on the stove. (adj.)
  • I'd like you both to help. (pron.)

adverb, as well; both something and something not only one specified thing but also another specified thing

  • He is both rude and ignorant.

What is sure, is that both... and is not a determiner, as it does not only correlate nouns or pronouns, but also verbs, adjectives, adverbs, even prepositions:

Both… and… can link not just verbs but also nouns, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions. (guinlist.wordpress)

The same site specifies the real role of both in this correlative conjunction:

BOTH cigarettes AND cigars are harmful to health.

This statement is equally about cigarettes and cigars... The presence of both gives an early indication that a list of two items is being given.

That's not to say that both cannot be a determiner. If you look it up in Cambridge, you will see that it needs to be followed by plural nouns or pronouns, if it is to function as a determiner:

We use both to refer to two things or people together:

  • Both those chairs are occupied, I’m afraid. (The two chairs are occupied.)
  • Are both your parents going to Chile? (Are your mother and father going to Chile?)

Also, you can see contexts where both... and both... is possible, where both is used as a determiner:

Both front doors and both front wheels of my car were damaged in the accident.

So, since both is inherently plural, it cannot determine a singular noun as in the sentence you indicated as not possible. You cannot say:

*both Jack and both Jane

but you could probably say

both Jacks and both Janes (four people in total).

1
1

You could rewrite 'the fathers and mothers' as 'the fathers and the mothers', but you can't write 'both Jack and both Jane'.

You seem to be trying to compare apples with oranges :)

"Both...and..." is a linking phrase composed of the two conjunctions the first one of which explicitly incorporates the idea two or more following things that all are included.

So, using the extra "both" after "and" would be neither reasonable nor logical, to say the least.

2
  • I forgot to return to this question. I believe you're trying to say that it's a correlative conjunction? That is the conclusion I came to after performing more research. The confusion arose because some resources ignore 'both ... and'. (Or they don't believe that it should be classified this way.)
    – MJ Ada
    Oct 15 at 12:13
  • @MJAda, Provided that what follows both and what follows and should have the same grammatical form, they are correlative conjunctions.
    – Victor B.
    Oct 15 at 16:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .