This is a quote from a book:

Leibniz was both philosopher and mathematician.

To me it should be "both a philosopher and (a) mathematician." Is the article a optionall after both? Does both includes a?

  • Searched on authentic sites, both practices are okay - with or without articles. But it's a thought provoking question. +1 – Maulik V Aug 1 '14 at 5:11

If he is just one of them:

Leibniz was a philosopher.

then a is necessary. But when he is both:

Leibniz was both philosopher and mathematician.

then he is two things (philosopher and mathematician), so a is not appropriate.
However, as you mentioned you could say;

Leibniz was both a philosopher and a mathematician.

which treats each one separately. I believe this would be technically correct.

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  • Can I leave out both? Is it grammatically correct: "He was philosopher and mathematician"? – Graduate Aug 1 '14 at 4:40
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    Then I think you need both "a"s in there. "He was a philosopher and a mathematician". – user3169 Aug 1 '14 at 16:08

That sentence is grammatically correct, although it would be a bit clearer if the a were included. Both can include a, although it is more common to see them used together, as it typically clarifies the sentence.

A more common usage of both by itself might be, for example, in a eulogy. Something like "I knew him as both Grandfather and friend." In this case, the addition of an article would not serve to clarify the sentence or make it more readable.

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