In portal, Glados at one point says this: "and I thought of a solution that would be the best for one of both of us."

I am debating about whether or not the construction of "for one of both of us" is grammatically correct.

My first opinion is that this is incorrect. Following the words "for one of", you can either: * list two alternatives (e.g. "...for one of X or Y") * or you can list a single noun that represents a collective (e.g. "...for one of the group"). You cannot treat "both of us" as a list of two alternatives because 'both of' explicitly means they are not alternatives. If you treat "both of us" as the name of a group, then you would have to pre-pend it with a particle. This makes "...for one of the both of us" to be more grammatically correct, but still exceedingly awkward. Consider "...for one of the three of us" vs. "for one of three of us".

Anyway can someone clear this up?

If my above opinion is correct, can someone explain it in clearer grammatically terms (i.e. preferably with grammatical concepts that I can verify on say, wikipedia or an English textbook).

If I am wrong, can someone explain what is flawed about my above opinion? Is "both of us" in Glados' quote considered a collective noun? If not, what part of speech is "both of us" in that sentence?

  • It is grammatical, makes eminent sense and nothing illogical. It may (does) appear somehow incorrect because the phrase "both of" looks either redundant or contradictory, but not so.
    – Kris
    Commented Oct 25, 2014 at 12:48
  • @Kris Are you referring to "one of both of us" or "one of the both of us"? Commented Oct 25, 2014 at 22:50
  • 3
    Looks like a typo, to me, for one or both of us.
    – Drew
    Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 2:43
  • 1
    It's not a typo. The context is that GlaDOS is saying something like "I have a solution that works for me" but wants to distract you (the player) from realizing that the solution doesn't also work for you. So she replaces "me" with "one of both of us". You can listen to the line here: theportalwiki.com/wiki/GLaDOS_voice_lines Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 7:43
  • Even if that was grammatical, it would be so strongly unidiomatic as to always cause any native speaker to pause. "one of us” works. "both of us” works. "one or both of us” works "one of both…" with or without "… of us” is intelligible but also as illogical as it is unidiomatic. D'you see "… that would be the best…" as evidence for or against Glados being a confident user of English? Commented Feb 6, 2021 at 23:07

1 Answer 1


Your reasoning (You cannot treat "both of us" as a list of two alternatives because 'both of' explicitly means they are not alternatives) is correct.

There is no syntactical explanation. "One of (the) both of us" is as grammatically sound as "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously". It is the semantic content of the words that makes both them unacceptable.

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