Imagine a person says "I take both the red line and the green line to get to work."

We know that they are talking about two different subway lines because they name two different lines and they use the word "both" which is used when referring to two different things.

Is there a word similar to "both" that can be used when referring to different number of things?

For example, if the person wanted to say "I take ____ the Red Line, Green Line and Blue Line to get to work.", what would "____" be?

In both cases I know the sentence would work without "both" or "____" but I'm curious if there is a word for it.

  • All -- Look here to start with: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/83143/all-vs-both and here: multimedia-english.com/grammar/every-vs-all-both-25 Good Luck.
    – Kris
    Sep 19, 2019 at 10:33
  • It's interesting that hostility toward "both of [three or more things]" seems more widespread than hostility toward "either [three or more things]." In both cases, the framing word is being used to signal "the multiple things that are next identified, taken collectively [both] or separately [either]," and in both cases the framing word carries a strong suggestion of twoness, probably owing to the word's frequent use in connection with two things in situations where a single noun is used in place of a separate enumeration of the two things (e.g., "both instances"; "either way").
    – Sven Yargs
    Sep 20, 2019 at 21:04

4 Answers 4


You can still use both:


— used as a function word to indicate and stress the inclusion of each of two or more things specified by coordinated words, phrases, or clauses.

  • prized both for its beauty and for its utility
  • he … who loveth well both man and bird and beast


  • 1
    This may be technically correct, but it sounds incredibly wrong to me. I'm wondering if maybe the usage for more than two is obsolete. Sep 19, 2019 at 4:37
  • @MattSamuel - I don’t think it is obsolete.
    – user 66974
    Sep 19, 2019 at 4:39
  • 1
    Note that the example with more than two that is given includes "loveth," which is not currently in use. (I didn't downvote by the way.) Sep 19, 2019 at 4:41
  • @MattSamuel - it is probably a more literary usage, but I’ve come across it before.
    – user 66974
    Sep 19, 2019 at 4:43
  • 2
    The quotation is from Coleridge's 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' of 1798, which is written in a consciously archaic style even for its time. Sep 19, 2019 at 8:20

I might use all in some situations.

I have to use all three subway lines -- Red, Blue, and Green -- to get to work.

This mostly feels right if there are only those lines in the system, but could be used in other ways:

I usually take the Red line to the Green or Blue line to get home, but late at night when service is limited I need to use all three lines.

Most of the time, though, the previous answer of combination would feel more natural.


When you're using a number of train lines, you're combining them to get to your destination. So you could use a combination of:

I take a combination of the Red Line, Green Line and Blue Line to get to work.

More Examples:

This phrase works for a combination of contexts such as:

  • I take a combination of the bus, train and bicycle to go to work
  • To pass my final exam I did a combination of bribing the teacher, studying really hard and sneaking a cheat sheet into the exam.
  • The football team did a combination of good passing, good counter-attacks and played defensively to win the game.

But ideally, and in common parlance one would omit it and say:

I take the Red Line, Green Line and Blue Line to get to work.

  • 1
    While this might for for the train example, I don't think it fits for most cases. In my question I said "In both cases I know the sentence would work without "'both' or '???' but I'm curious if there is a word for it." If I had more than 2 example sentences, what word would I use instead of "both"?
    – nooky
    Sep 19, 2019 at 4:40
  • I've written more examples....
    – 3kstc
    Sep 19, 2019 at 4:46
  • I feel like I'm missing something. The transportation example works, but the second and third example cannot directly translate into a form that uses the word "both" without changing tense.
    – nooky
    Sep 19, 2019 at 4:47
  • @nooky I think this answer fits what you're looking for.
    – 3kstc
    Sep 19, 2019 at 4:51
  • I take both the Red, the Green and the Blue Line to get to work.
    – user 66974
    Sep 19, 2019 at 4:53

"I take both of the Red Line and the Green Line..."

"I take each of the Red Line, Green Line and Yellow Line..."

In each sentence above, you know that there will be multiple objects before the whole sentence is read. In the first sentence, you know that there will only be two. In the second, there could be any number.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.