Both didn't go.

Is it a correct sentence?

Actually, I have read that both is not usually used in a negative clause. Use a clause with neither instead.

  • 5
    Context, context,context. As you wrote "I have read that Both is not usually used in a negative clause" you should add to your question where you read that (along with some citation or link) so the rule can be commented on. Also you do not have an example using neither.
    – user3169
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 18:03
  • 2
    I voted to reopen because I believe this question can be usefully answered in its current state.
    – user230
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 23:47
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    Consider: Both boys didn't have a key", "Both Max and Ed didn't have a key" (examples from H&P CGEL, page 389).
    – F.E.
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 5:01

2 Answers 2


You don't usually use "both" in the negative. Instead, you should use neither such as "Neither of them went". I don't mean that " Both of them didn't go" is not correct. What I mean is that the use of neither is more common than and preferable to the use of both" in this negative sentence. See the last paragraph of the link.

  • macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/both
    – Khan
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 19:38
  • Hallo, user3169. I have read it in a dictionary. That is named as "Longman Dictionary of Contemporary".I wanted to get this question verified by seniors here.Mr. Khan Sir has definitely expressed it pleasantly. Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 4:27
  • Khan, brother. We have already mentioned in our comments that we cannot use "both"in negative sentence. So what about this sentence? Khan:Did you bring the bags? Aslam:I couldn't carry both. Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 4:41
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    We can sometimes use "both". Notice in Khan's answer that the third word is "usually". The dictionary is a learner's dictionary, and it gives a suggestion that is supposed to help English learners to make fewer mistakes. It is not a "rule". Your example, I couldn't carry both is fine, however, that example uses both in the object, which is very common. It is less common to use both as the subject or as part of the subject in a negative sentence. But it is still possible sometimes! Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 8:22
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    user12434, I think you are now clear about my answer after Jim Reynold's valued comments. If you are still confused about your sentence "I couldn't carry both the suitcases", you can preferably use either such as I couldn't carry either suitcase or either of the suitcases/I couldn't carry either of them". FYI, " both" means "the two together, the one and the other".
    – Khan
    Commented Jul 26, 2015 at 12:41

Incorrect Both did not go. Correct Both of them did not go. Because Both is not subject...its used normally as a pronoun, as a conjunction and preparation.

  • Welcome to English Language Learners! While this may be correct, we like our answers to be backed up by references. You can edit your answer to include one (e.g. an online dictionary). See the Help Center article How to Answer.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 13:19

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