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I'm unsure whether or not 'both of us' and 'we both' are subject phrases. They are clearly in the subject position but in the first sentence 'both' is also a predeterminer, as far as I understand it, which would leave me with the object pronoun 'us' as the subject. Can someone help to unravel the grammar, please.

Both of us like sailing.

We both like sailing.

  • Both [of] these constructions are perfectly valid - or if you like, these constructions are both perfectly valid. It's a stylistic choice which format you use. – FumbleFingers Jun 2 at 11:35
  • FumbleFingers, I'm more interested in the underlying grammar. – Jörg Jun 2 at 12:02
  • Relevant factors include the subject/object distinction (we/us, they/them,...) with personal pronouns, and the fact that for other "referents", the proposition of is usually optional. So Both of the children are here and Both the children are here are both fine. As is Both children are here, with no preposition and no "determiner" (the), but note that Both of children are here (preposition included, but no determiner) is not valid. Sadly, I can't explain why that is so in terms of generalized syntactic principles, and I'm not sure if there might be any exceptions. – FumbleFingers Jun 2 at 12:56
  • Both of us is a noun phrase and it's the subject. We is the subject in the other one; both has been moved by Quantifier-Float from its position at the head of the noun phrase to an adverb position in the verb phrase. Since there's no auxiliary verb, it goes immediately before the main verb. But we both is not a constituent; we is the noun phrase and both is part of the verb phrase. – John Lawler Jun 2 at 14:48
  • Concerning "we both", I'd go along with JL. I'd add that "both" is a quantificational adjunct in clause structure, as is evident from the fact that when the verb is an auxiliary it preferentially follows rather than precedes it, as in "We had both liked the sailing". Note also the possibility of inserting an adjunct after the pronoun and before the quantificational adjunct. as in "We certainly both like sailing". – BillJ Jun 2 at 16:57

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