26

Is the following correct?

Both of these essentially act as a WebKit wrapper.

Or should it be the following?

Both of these essentially acts as a WebKit wrapper.

Context.

5

The word both is a determinative (in the terminology of CGEL). Determinatives are not per se singular or plural (except these and those), but they select singular or plural nouns. When both appears without the head noun, as it does here, there is a fusion of functions and it becomes both the determiner and the head of the plural NP. The verb then agrees with the plural NP.

syntax tree showing partitive construction with *both* (ignore the clumsy grey line above Head)

  • 3
    bro appreciate your efforts but everybody loves simple and straight-to-head explanations. – Kings Mar 12 '18 at 12:01
  • So it's plural in this case? – Max Ghenis Apr 22 '18 at 21:26
  • 2
    When you say we are, we is plural and are agrees with it, but it doesn't make sense to say that are is plural because it's not a noun. In the same way, it doesn't make sense to talk about both being singular or plural because it's not a noun.So, if you just want to know what kind of verb agreement to use, then use the form that agrees with plural subjects. But if OP actually wants to know if both is plural or singular, there is no answer. The question is malformed. – Brett Reynolds Apr 23 '18 at 23:20
44

It acts only like plural because, unlike each1 and none2, "both" refers to all of the elements and not to one of them.

Read these examples from the OALD:

  • Both of us were tired. - and not - **Both of us was tired.*
  • Both of them were French - and not - **Both of them was French*.

(1) - Each is usually singular: "each of us knows about you".
(2) - None can be both singular or plural: "none of us is/are going home." (the singular form is considered formal in BrE).

Note: for more accurate explanations, visit the links, otherwise if I add too much info, this answer gets off topic.

4

Both of these essentially act as WebKit wrappers.

1

Both is definitely plural.

Both me and my brother are doing our best at school

Here's an explanation on using both. Although this explanation is irrelevant to the OP's question, none of the examples there uses both as singular.

And here it is stated explicitly.

  • 3
    ...and neither you nor your brother have gotten to the part about nominative case? :P – JeffSahol May 27 '11 at 13:20
  • @JeffSahol Since my bro never really existed, I can assure you, he knows everything there is to know about anything there is to study :P Relating to your inquiry I do believe I used nominative case in my example. Always had trouble with using I in this context. – Philoto May 27 '11 at 13:38
  • Both my brother and I are not doing so well in school, especially English. You have to use 'I', and you really should put yourself last in a list. – Timothy Bostick Dec 12 '17 at 11:58

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