How to use both in a sentence?

Which one is correct sentence?
The girls both danced.
Both girls danced.
We face the problem of placing both at the right place in a sentence if we don't know different functions of the word both. In this post we will learn where both should be placed in a sentence.

What does both mean ?
Both can be an adjective, a pronoun and a conjunction.
  1. Both dogs dwell inside an abandon house: here both acts as adjective.
  2. Both dwell inside an abandon house: here both acts as pronoun.
  3. Both dog and cat dwell inside an abandon house: here both acts as conjunction because it connects two things.

How do we use both in a sentence?
When both is used with a pronoun:
  • Both follows a single pronoun. When we use both with a pronoun, we say 'They both play football' or  'Both of them play football'. More examples below:
  1. They both wanted another dog = Both of them wanted another dog.
  2. We both read novel = Both of us read novel.
  3. They both wanted a baby = Both of them wanted a baby.

According to Penguin Dictionary of American English, we can say both of them, but not both them.
"Both often goes with "of "  when a pronoun follows: "Give me both of them." You would not say "Give me both them." But "The referee penalized both them and us" is correct, because both always demands two things.  
Penguin Dictionary of American English says that we should prefer both girls or both of the girls to both the girls. If you choose to write both the girls, it demands to add one more phrase with the "and".  Here we make the sentence "Both the girls and the boys" sounds perfect for a sentence.
  • When both is used with a single noun, both precedes a single noun, for example 'Both boys played cricket', not 'Boys both played cricket'.
                       But if a sentence has a linking verb (is, are, was, were), both either follows a single noun after the linking verb or precedes a noun.
The men were both happy = Both men were happy.
Passengers were both tired = Both passengers were tired.
Both women are beautiful = Women are both beautiful.
                  If there are two nouns or a double noun, like sister and brother, cat and dog, son and daughter, etc; both can follow or precede them. More examples:
  1. Sister and brother both qualified the exam = Both sister and brother qualified the exam.
  2. Both John and I trespassed the land = John and I both trespassed the land.

Both of must be followed by a pronoun, not by a noun.
We should write both of them, both of us.
However, we can also write both girls or both of the girls , both men or both of the men, both boys or both of the boys, both animals or both of the animals, include the when both of is followed by a noun; we should avoid writing both the girls, both the men, both the boys as these phrases seem to be half not complete. For more see what Penguin Dictionary says at the top of the post.

Both uses "and" , not as well as,  to connect two things in a sentence, and the things must be parallel in structure.
Both sister and brother qualified the exam.   
Both sister as well as brother qualified the exam.  
What Penguin Dictionary of American English says:
When both is combined with "and" (forming a pair of correlative conjunctions), what follows one must match grammatically what follows the other. If a clause follows the both, a similar clause must follow the and. A phrase must be paralleled by a similar phrase, a verb by verb, a noun by a noun. For example, They like both playing and reading. My mother loves both to buy new jewelry and to sell old jewelry.

Can we use The with both?
Penguin Dictionary says, 
Some authorities object to "the" before both. It is at least unnecessary in 'She scorns the both of them' and strained in 'The both men were disappointed.' In each instance, either omit ''the'' or change ''both'' to two.
In a nutshell
Use of both in a sentence:
When we use both with a noun, we can write a sentence in these patterns: 
The babies are both cute = Both of the babies are cute = Both babies are cute.
Avoid the pattern Both the babies are cute, because both, in these pattern, demands one more noun. The sentence Both the babies and the mom are cute sounds perfect and correct.

When we use both with a pronoun, we can say either we both/they both etc or both of us/both of them; the meaning is the same.

I have read some fantastic books on English language that really helped me improve my writing. You can buy my recommended books on Amazon. Here is the lists below:

Books on Grammar:
Books Buy Links Rating

The Elephants Of Style


English Grammar in Use Book


Practical English Usage


The Elements of Style


Essentials of English


Handbook of English Grammar and Usage


Woe Is I


Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing


It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences.


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