Situation - You are addressing two people - You want to address their work collectively - They both do work, separately


  • The singular and plural form of your is the same
  • The plural of work, in this meaning, is work; the plural works means something else and refers to products as opposed to labor/vocation* (or plural work has a more white collar, professional or academic, meaning, whereas plural works has a more artistic sense)

How do you refer to their collective work using both?

My initial construction would be both your work, but this is ambiguous because the multiplicity of possible plurals:

  • both your (two people) work
  • both your work (two work)
  • both your (two people) work (two work)

Or maybe this isn't ambiguous, but just sounds off because we expect obvious plurals to follow both.

This question should apply to other nouns, besides work, that do not change when made plural.

  • 1
    If we all used y'all you could say "y'all's work," but alas ... – Katherine Lockwood Dec 21 '16 at 0:27

I was going to suggest the work of both of you, but I'm not sure that "both" fits here as it suggests that the "work" is collective.

"Each" has the advantage that it takes a singular verb etc. So the work of each of you allows for them having distinct and separate work.

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    Each is of course a good solution. I suppose the work might be collective, but in the sense that anything is collective when bound by both, in the sense that both your houses is collective – Unrelated Dec 20 '16 at 19:04

Use the word 'joint' to remove the ambiguity.

Jim, Nancy, I need to talk about your joint project.

Jim, Nancy, I need to talk about your joint projects.

It also works when there are more than 2 people involved:

Nancy, Sue, Steve, what's the status of your joint work?

Joint (MW, adjective definition 2a)

common to two or more: as involving the united activity of two or more "a joint effort"

  • Thank you. But how about when the work isn't joint? To keep a theme, I am interested in both your research. They do separate research but I am interested in both – Unrelated Dec 20 '16 at 19:06
  • Then just use 'both'. "I am interested in both your research", "I am interested in both of your research projects", "Can both of you tell me about your research", etc. – John Feltz Dec 20 '16 at 19:07
  • And for the last option, if each person has a solo project, and they have a joint project together, then ask about their 'individual' projects. – John Feltz Dec 20 '16 at 19:09
  • You could reword to avoid the problem: your efforts, your contributions, your responses, the work you each did, etc. Are you asking a more abstract question that this? – Chaim Jan 19 '17 at 20:10

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