Each vs. Both

'Both' and 'each' have two different meanings which makes them easy to understand.

"Each" vs. "Both" in the English Grammar

What Are Their Main Differences?

'Each' refers to one individual in a group of two or more people or things; while 'both' refers to two people or things In a group of two members.


Grammatical Functions

  • 'Each':
  1. As a determiner
  2. As a pronoun
  3. As an adverb

As you know, determiners are used before nouns, 'each' is no different and as a determiner, it is used before nouns. 'Each' as a pronoun is used alone without any noun following it. Adverbs are words that can modify adjectives other adverbs or sometimes they give more information about the verb. 'Each' can be an adverb, too.

I carried each chair under the roof of the store because it was raining outside. → determiner

Each of our teachers is making the students get ready for the exams. → pronoun

They put two boxes beside us and we took one item from each. → adverb

  • 'Both':
  1. As a determiner
  2. As a pronoun
  3. As a conjunction

'Both' as a determiner is used before nouns and as a pronoun, it is used alone with no nouns following it. As conjunction, 'both' is always followed by the term 'and' that we will discuss in this article.

Both of them ordered sushi. → pronoun

He took both shots of vodka and bent over the counter. → determiner

The doctor did a surgery on both my tooth and jaw. → conjunction

Singular or Plural Nouns?

  • 'Each':

is followed by a singular noun. And as a result, it is used with a singular verb.

Each girl was standing behind the door to try on the shoes.

Each member should sign the contract.

  • 'Both':

is followed by a plural noun or a singular noun which is joined to another singular noun by the term 'and'. In both cases, we are supposed to use a plural verb with the term 'both.'

Both brands are good enough to worth the price.

Both films are exciting.

Both Chicago and Havana are suitable for a nice vacation.

What They mean

  • 'Each':

means 'every of' things or people. We can use 'each' to refer to every one of the individuals in a group when the members of the group are two or even more than two.

We had five dollars, each.

Each coat cost $70.

  • 'Both':

means two. We use the term 'both' to refer to two things or people at the same time together. Remember, we cannot use the term 'both' when there are more than two members in a group.

Both his wife and his mother are happy with him joining the army.

I had salmon and the shrimp, both.

Both + Adjective + and + Adjective

In some cases, adjectives are used after 'both.' Since we cannot make adjectives plural we can link them by the term 'and.' In this case, you are allowed to use a singular verb with the term 'both.' Check out the examples!

The man is both brave and muscular.

The movie we have watched last night was both interesting and frightening.


Both of and Each of

  • 'Each of' and 'both of':

We are not allowed to use plural nouns or pronouns immediately after the term each.As a result, we use this structure: [ each of + determiner + plural noun] or [ each of + pronoun]. On the contrary, we can use a plural noun immediately after the term 'both,' but whenever we want to use a 'determiner and a plural noun' or a 'plural pronoun,' we can use the phrase 'both of', however, both can be used alone before [determiners + plural nouns] the general structures are: [both + plural noun], [both of + determiner + plural noun], or [both of + plural pronoun].
Check out the table for more clarification.

both mothers each mothers
both of them each of them
both them each them
both of my sisters each of my sisters
both my aunts each my aunts

Now let us take a look at examples to get to know the usage of these structures in a sentence.

Both my toothbrushes were lost in the hotel.

There were lots of balloons at the party, each of them were put in an especial order.


  1. 'Each' and 'both'

cannot be used in negative sentences. We mean you cannot use them in sentences that include the term *not. So, what if we want to refer to two things in a group or at the same time? The answer to this question is clear. As you know, 'neither' in positive sentences and 'either' in negative sentences imply a negative meaning. So, we can use them instead of 'both' and 'Each.'

Either of them is not fit enough. (Not "Each of them is not fit enough.")

Neither her husband nor her father had brown eyes. (Not "Both her husband and her father didn't have brown eyes.")


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