“Both” or “Both of Them” – Which Is Correct? (+Examples)

The term “both” and the phrase “both of them” are each commonly used within the English language. However, being so similar, folks are occasionally confused over which should be appropriately used. In this article, we will be going over the term and the phrase in an in-depth way. 

“Both” Or “Both Of Them” – Which Is Correct? 

We should choose to use the term “both” when we are referring to two people or things, which are being identified together. On the other hand, we should use the phrase “both of them” to refer to two items or people that have already been previously mentioned or named.

both or both of them

We should think of the term “both” and the phrase “both of them” as each being correct and applicable for use. Either can be used appropriately, and they are considered to be interchangeable or synonyms within the English language among native speakers and writers.

It is worth noting that while the term “both” and the phrase “both of them” are considered interchangeable, the particular use of the term vs. the phrase may have to do with the context of the sentence. To help explain, here is an example:

  • Would you like Tina or Lisa to come over tonight?
  • I’d like “both of them” to come over!
  • Will you be needing salt or pepper for your meal?
  • I’ll need both, please, and thank you!

As we can see, the phrase “both of them” can imply a grouping or joining of two things together. On the other hand, using the term “both” can allow two things to be thought of or viewed separately.

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Both

We will choose to use the term “both” to refer to two people or things, regarded and identified together. We may also use this term before the first of two alternatives, as to emphasize that the statement being made applies to each.

We should consider the first use of the term “both” to be a predeterminer, a determiner, or a pronoun. On the other hand, the second use of the term “both” is considered to be as an adverb.

When looking at Cambridge Dictionary, we can see that “both” is defined as a term referring to two people or two things together.

We will now go over a few examples that highlight how we can accurately use the term “both” in a sentence:

  1. A long dispute was finally settled and it was ruled that both clients were wrong.
  2. A lion and a cougar are both considered to be predators.
  3. Friendship is both a source of health and happiness.
  4. Both of the women were of Italian heritage.
  5. The company is known for dealing with both hardware and software issues.

Both Of Them

We will use the phrase “both of them” to refer to two items that we have already named, to avoid any unnecessary repetitiveness in speech or writing. This is because “both” refers to two things together, while “them” is a third-person pronoun used as the object of a verb.

Therefore, it is correct to say “both of them” in reference to two people, places, or things that you have previously named. We may also correctly use the phrase “both of them” to imply a grouping or joining of two things together.

We will now go over how we can correctly use the phrase “both of them” in a sentence:

  1. Chrissy and Todd are at fault, so both of them should be blamed.
  2. I have two sisters and both of them live in Toronto.
  3. There are two manuals and both of them are equally useless.
  4. I loved both of them very dearly.
  5. The government celebrated the two soldiers, naming both of them national heroes.

“Both of Them” or “The Both of Them”?

We should always choose to use the phrase “both of them” as opposed to the phrase “the both of them”. This is because the expression “both of you” is equivalent to “the two of you”. Therefore, “the both” would be the equivalent of “the the two”, which is clearly incorrect.

We will now go over some examples that highlight the correctness and incorrectness of these two phrases:

  • Incorrect: The steak and lobster look delicious, I will have the both of them.
  • Correct: The steak and lobster look delicious, I will have both of them.
  • Incorrect: Mike and Adam were bad, so the both of them were punished.
  • Correct: Mike and Adam were bad, so both of them were punished.

Lastly, when looking at the graph provided by Google Ngram Viewer, we can see that the phrase “both of them” is used far more commonly, as it is the correct phrase. “The both of them” shows minuscule use within the last decade, however, this use should be considered incorrect. 

both of them or the both of them

Final Thoughts

The phrase “both of them” and the term “both” should each be considered correct, as long as they are used in the correct and applicable context. “Both” refers to two people or things, while “both of them” refers to two items that have already been named.