# Thread: Both + negative sentence

1. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Join Date
Nov 2002
Posts
40,191

## Re: Both + negative sentence

Woulkd it be possible in a statement not a question?

2. ## Re: Both + negative sentence

Originally Posted by tdol
Would it be possible in a statement not a question?
Good point. It brings to mind . . ., well, another "rare" usage. Consider this,

Here's a riddle. I have two coins in my pocket. One is not a nickle (= 5 pennies) and one is not a quarter (= 25 pennies). Both are not nickles, and both are not quarters.

Answer: One is a nickle and one is a quarter.

3. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Join Date
Nov 2002
Posts
40,191

## Re: Both + negative sentence

Other than riddles?????

4. ## Re: Both + negative sentence

Originally Posted by tdol
Other than riddles?????
I believe context is the determinant.

[1] Both are not secretaries.
=> Of the two one is (not) a secretary

It's not the default reading, agreed, but it's possible, at least in my dialect. "Both" refers to a set, and that set is made up of two individual items. Negate the set and we get reading [a]; negate the individual items within that set and we get reading [b].

[a] neither is a secretary
[b] one is (not) a secretary

5. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Join Date
Nov 2002
Posts
40,191

## Re: Both + negative sentence

Interesting- there's no way I'd get the 'one is not' meaning from that.

Page 2 of 2 First 12

#### Posting Permissions

• You may not post new threads
• You may not post replies
• You may not post attachments
• You may not edit your posts
•

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.1