Example with context
UPDATE 15/12/2016 (YouTube link broken):

I let go of the door. The door opened and both the men came in.

Is the grammar correct in that sentence? I've always thought that the only correct way to use both is without articles, like this: the door opened and both men came in.

If the way they have it in the story is correct though, then why do you think they used that particular, hard-to-comprehend grammar instead of the simpler, less-convoluted grammar offered in my example?
What can you say about this to help clear things up a bit?

  • 2
    It should be both of the men came in or both men came in.
    – Catija
    Apr 9, 2015 at 23:10
  • If both the things is possible, why not men? :)
    – Maulik V
    Apr 10, 2015 at 5:01
  • If you can remember the original YouTube video and write its title in your question and//or find a substitute link that would be great.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 14, 2016 at 23:51
  • @MaulikV Both the things does not sound like good English to my ears.
    – user32753
    Dec 15, 2016 at 4:17
  • @C.M.Weimer 'both the things' is absolutely okay to my ears! Even news search support it.
    – Maulik V
    Jan 13, 2017 at 7:19

1 Answer 1


I let go of the door. The door opened and both the men came in.

That usage of "both" is grammatical in today's standard English. In your example, the word "both" is functioning as a predeterminer.

Your suggestion of "the door opened and both men came in" is fine too, where the word "both" is functioning as a determiner.

Here is an excerpt from the 2002 CGEL that's related to your question, on page 376:

Relation between determiner and predeterminer constructions

All and both are unique among the determinatives in that they function as either determiner or predeterminer:


  • i. [ All / Both students ] failed the philosophy exam. -- [determiner]
  • ii. [ All / Both the students ] failed the philosophy exam. -- [predeterminer]

With both such pairs are equivalent. Both students (in contrast to two students) is definite: it denotes the totality of an identifiable set. The expresses nothing more than definiteness, so adding it to the already definite both students has no effect on the meaning.

NOTE: The 2002 CGEL is the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum (et al.), The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

  • 2
    +1 Erm, what's a "pre-determiner" exactly, please? Just in case I don't have a CGEL ... :) [of either description!] Apr 10, 2015 at 0:24
  • 2
    @Araucaria A predeterminer is an external modifier function slotted before the determined NP. For instance: "the students" is a NP that is determined by the determiner "the"; "[both] [the students]" is a bigger NP, with "both" functioning as the predeterminer which happens to be outside of the inner NP "the students".
    – F.E.
    Apr 10, 2015 at 0:32
  • 1
    Ah, yes. Am going to but haven't had the time to read the H&P. Think I was getting myself mixed up with another argument I once had with a commenter or two about whether only inversion was the same as not only inversion - which has nothing to do with only! Anyhow, not quite on the ball with that post and need to reground myself before I try and enlighten anyone else! EDIT: Oh yes, thanks for the links by the way, will be well perused :D Apr 10, 2015 at 0:55
  • 1
    @Araucaria And perhaps also: "The two twins both both sing and dance". :D
    – F.E.
    Apr 10, 2015 at 18:08
  • 1
    @F.E. No, that was me popping back from the social programme to get my keys and being silly :) Apr 10, 2015 at 18:32

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