A and B (both) went skiing

Discussion in 'English Only' started by meijin, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. meijin

    meijin Senior Member

    Tokyo
    Japanese
    Hi, I searched the forum with "both" and "and" but none of the threads displayed seemed to answer this entry-level question, so I've decided to create this thread with a more helpful title.

    Please see the following two sentences I've just made up.

    1. John and Carl went skiing during the winter holiday.
    2. John and Carl both went skiing during the winter holiday.


    I think #1 means they went skiing either together or separately depending on the context, while #2 means they went skiing separately (if "separately" is the right word).
     
  2. whir77

    whir77 Senior Member

    The Americas
    I speak English from Decatur Georgia
    The sentences mean the same thing. Both is just reinforcing John and Carl in sentence two.
     
  3. meijin

    meijin Senior Member

    Tokyo
    Japanese
    Thanks whir77. So, the most important question is, would you think they went skiing together or not if you heard #1 or #2?
     
  4. whir77

    whir77 Senior Member

    The Americas
    I speak English from Decatur Georgia
    Yes, I would think that they went skiing in both sentences.
     
  5. meijin

    meijin Senior Member

    Tokyo
    Japanese
    Thanks whir77, but what I wanted to know wasn't actually whether they went skiing or not. It's whether they went skiing together or not.

    Here's another example.

    1. John and Carl bought a boat.
    2. John and Carl both bought a boat.


    How many boats were bought in #1 and #2?
     
  6. whir77

    whir77 Senior Member

    The Americas
    I speak English from Decatur Georgia
    They bought a boat.
     
  7. meijin

    meijin Senior Member

    Tokyo
    Japanese
    So, if I want to say that John bought a boat and Carl also bought a boat, I should say "John and Carl each bought a boat"?
     
  8. whir77

    whir77 Senior Member

    The Americas
    I speak English from Decatur Georgia
    Yes, both sentences are correct, each is an excellent way to separate happenings.
     
  9. meijin

    meijin Senior Member

    Tokyo
    Japanese
    So, "John and Carl both bought a boat" can mean either: they together bought a boat, or they each bought a boat.
    How about "John and Carl bought a boat"? Can it also mean either?
     
  10. whir77

    whir77 Senior Member

    The Americas
    I speak English from Decatur Georgia
    When I read your examples, I instantly thought that they both bought the boat together.
     
  11. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    Cheshire
    English / England
    This kind of thing is context dependent. In a real conversation I'd know who you are talking about and that would inform my understanding of the sentences. If they are a couple I'd assume they did the activity together or bought the item together. If they are people you and I know but who are not connected to each other I would assume they did things seperately.

    Adding "both" into the mix adds an sort of emphasis. We don't only know one person who bought a boat, but TWO - WOW - that's amazing they can both afford to buy a boat! I'd be thinking of two boats.

    In that sense your original assumption that adding "both" sugests that they did things seperately is correct. If they are a couple I would not generally use "both" when describing an activity they did together.
     
  12. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    London
    British English
    Sentences don't appear out of thin air - language is meaningful communication and should not be an arrangement - of words- puzzle to be solved.
    You devise a context and then think up how best to express it. You yourself said this in the OP.
    It's not what does this sentence mean but does this sentence express the meaning I wish to convey.
     
  13. meijin

    meijin Senior Member

    Tokyo
    Japanese
    Thank you all very much. I'll avoid using "both" when the sentence can mean either. Your replies and the following thread which I've just found and read made me decide it (Have a look. It's interesting).
    "They both" vs "They each"
     

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