May I use 'both' with a negative --"Both didn't go"?


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.

I don't know who I am.

Posted 2015-07-25T17:22:04.957

Reputation: 2 503

5Context, 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 – 2015-07-25T18:03:48.350

2I voted to reopen because I believe this question can be usefully answered in its current state. – snailplane – 2015-07-25T23:47:54.480

1Consider: 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. – 2015-07-26T05:01:52.417



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.


Posted 2015-07-25T17:22:04.957

Reputation: 26 261

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. – I don't know who I am. – 2015-07-26T04:27:14.613

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. – I don't know who I am. – 2015-07-26T04:41:19.283

F.E , Can you please clear my confusion?I have asked a question Khan. That one question. – I don't know who I am. – 2015-07-26T05:05:31.787

Both used in the negative means one of two and does not establish which of the two. Q: "Did you bring the suitcases?" A: "I couldn't carry both." Means I carried one of them, not the two of them. – I don't know who I am. – 2015-07-26T07:19:07.217

1We 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! – Jim Reynolds – 2015-07-26T08:22:19.863

1user12434, 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 – 2015-07-26T12:41:31.807