I wrote this sentence:

Spelling words in English is challenging for both native speakers and language learners.

I feel it is correct, but I am little confused about using "both", could the sentence be:

Spelling words in English is challenging both for the native speakers and the language learners.

What is the normal position of "both"?

  • 1
    Both positions sound very natural. They both work just as well. (Also, you should say "I wrote this sentence", instead of "I made this sentence".) – Jacob Jul 9 '15 at 16:44
  • Did you intend to use the in only one of the two sentences? – snailplane Jul 9 '15 at 17:04
  • Rather than worry about its position, I would leave out "both" unless there is a specific reason in context. It is implied with two items joined by "and". But if you insist either position is fine. And you don't need "the" as those nouns are groups of people. – user3169 Jul 9 '15 at 17:28
  • 1
    @user3169 Thank you, I think you can guess the context. This matter that the spelling is challenging for language learners is not surprising, but that it is difficult for the native speakers is a bit surprising. Then I used "both" to emphasize this. Is it a proper usage of "both"? – Ahmad Jul 9 '15 at 17:50
  • 1
    For emphasis it is OK to use both. In that case, I would go with challenging both since you want to emphasize the challenge. – user3169 Jul 9 '15 at 17:54

Consider these figures from Google Books...

both for A and B - 8 results
both for A and for B - 7 results
for both A and B - About 495 results

In most cases we try to put both as near as possible to the two things being referenced. If you allow a preposition like for to intervene unnecessarily, you force the reader/listener to (momentarily) suspend parsing until the next word, since both could feasibly apply to for...

Some Greeks are both for and against austerity - they simply don't know which way to turn.


You should see the construction in this way:

  • It is a challenge for both: (for) natives and non-natives.
  • Then I can't say "both for"? If yes, then how should I see that? – Ahmad Jul 9 '15 at 19:03
  • I was meant as a help. If it does not help you simply forget it. – rogermue Jul 9 '15 at 19:07

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