"Both" and Modal Verbs

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According to the Cambridge Dictionary "both" should go between the first auxiliary verb and before the main one. However, I don't know if it is a rule for any sentence containing "modal verbs", or it is only to refer to the subject of a clause.

Example 1:
They had both been refused to enter the museum.
(Where "both" refers to "they").

If I want to refer to two spaces that I am going to mention next, can I say...?

They had been refused to enter both the kitchen and the dining room.

Example 2:
They were both very nice.

If I say: They were both helpful and jolly.

Is it correct to assume that "both" is concerning "helpful and jolly"? Or in this case "both" is also making reference to the subject "they"?

Many thanks!

Cambridge Dictionary: "Both Position"
Both - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionary
Last edited:
  • Bevj

    Allegra Moderata (Sp/Eng, Cat)
    English (U.K.)
    Your understanding of example 1 seems correct. However, you can't say 'they had been refused to enter'.
    They had been refused permission to enter.
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