Do You Need a Comma Before or After 'Both'?

As a general rule, do not add a comma before or after "both" in a sentence. However, you can use a comma after "both" to serve a grammatical function, such as adding a non-restrictive expression or starting a sentence with a dependent clause.

As a general rule, do not add a comma before or after "both" in a sentence.

Both David and Barbara were hungry.

I love you both.

However, you can use a comma after "both" to serve a particular grammatical function, such as adding a nonrestrictive expression or starting a sentence with a dependent clause.

Although I like them both, I'll buy the red one.

1. Do Not Generally Use a Comma After'Both'

"Both" can be a pronoun, a determiner, an adverb, or a conjunction.

  • As a pronoun, "both" means "the two of them" (e.g., "Both are tall.")
  • As a determiner, it is frequently used to introduce two persons or things (e.g., "Both theories are correct.")
  • As an adverb, "both" means "equally" (e.g., "She is both smart and pretty.")
  • As a correlative conjunction, the pair both/and implies a correlation between two subjects or objects (e.g., "The trip was both amazing and exciting.")

We do not generally use a comma before or after "both".

Trying to hit your mother is both deplorable and plain wrong.

Trying to hit your mother is both, deplorable and plain wrong.

Another example:

Both Rebecca and Olivia were late.

Similarly, we do not normally use commas with correlative conjunctions, such as the pair both/and.

Isabella is admired both for her intelligence and for her kindness.

As a quick grammar review, keep in mind that we say "both + noun", not "both of + noun". If we add the preposition "of", we need to place another word ("the", "my", "his", etc.) between "both" and the noun. For example, we say "both cars" or "both of my cars".

Both projects are progressing.

Both of the projects are progressing.

Both of projects are progressing.

2. Can You Put a Comma Before or After 'Both'?

Most of the time, you will not need a comma before or after "both". However, there are particular situations where commas are required. For example, when starting a sentence with a dependent clause ("Although I love you both" in the example above), add a comma after it.

Although I love you both, I must say that Mary is right.

Although I love you both I must say that Mary is right.

3. More Examples

  • Both restaurants are expensive.
  • Peter and John have both applied for the job.
  • You can be both doctor and mother.
  • Mia couldn't decide which of the two cars to buy. She liked both.
  • The movie was both tedious and long.
  • Both Jessica and Karen went to the party.
  • Did you go to China or Japan? We went to both.
  • Both Olivia and Claire are on holiday.
  • My parents are both engineers.
  • I hate you both.
  • Mary used to play both tennis and soccer when she was a high school student.

4. Conclusion

As a general rule, avoid commas with the word "both" unless you are using a specific phrase or clause where commas are required, such as adding a non-restrictive clause or starting a sentence with a dependent clause.

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