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How to say "both" in Spanish

Both in Spanish

In Spanish there are two different ways to say "both":

  • ambos / ambas [+ noun]
  • los / las dos [+ noun]

For example:

Ambos hermanos se fueron a estudiar a Inglaterra.Both brothers went to study in England.

Tiene dos hermanos y ambos se fueron a estudiar a Inglaterra.She has two brothers and both [of them] went to study in England.

Mis compañeras de piso son simpáticas y ambas son de Salamanca.My housemates are friendly and they are both from Salamanca.

Leí las redacciones de Rosa y de Elena; me gustaron ambas redacciones.I read Rosa's and Elena's essays; I liked both essays.

Ambos/-as can be used as adjectives accompanying the noun or as a pronoun when the noun has already been mentioned in the conversation. 

Note there is a masculine and a feminine form to agree with the gender of the noun:

  • ambos hermanos (masc),
  • ambas redacciones (fem)

The same can be expressed with los dos/las dos (the two [of them] = both):

- ¿Qué sandalias me pongo? -Las dos van bien con ese vestido.- Which sandals shall I wear? - Both go nicely with that dress.

- ¿Invito a Emma o a Sara? -Invita a las dos.- Shall I invite Emma or Sara? - Invite them both.

Los dos niños cantan estupendamente.Both children sing beautifully.

Me encantan estos relojes. No sé cuál comprar, los dos son bonitosI love these watches. I don't know which one to buy, both are nice.

Use the masculine article los for masculine plural nouns, and the feminine article las for feminine plural nouns:

  • los dos niños
  • las dos sandalias

Note that los dos/las dos can also be used on their own as pronouns, when the noun has already been mentioned: 

me gustan los dos relojes → me gustan los dos

me gustan ambos relojes → me gustan ambos

Be careful not to mix both forms:

  • los ambos   
  • dos ambos
  • ambos dos
  • los ambos dos
  • los dos ambos

All of these are incorrect!!

Note that the use of "ambos/ambas" is slightly more formal than "los/las dos".

 

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Examples and resources

Tiene dos hermanos y ambos se fueron a estudiar a Inglaterra.She has two brothers and both [of them] went to study in England.
- ¿Qué sandalias me pongo? -Las dos van bien con ese vestido.- Which sandals shall I wear? - Both go nicely with that dress.
Me encantan estos relojes. No sé cuál comprar, los dos son bonitosI love these watches. I don't know which one to buy, both are nice.
Mis compañeras de piso son simpáticas y ambas son de Salamanca.My housemates are friendly and they are both from Salamanca.
Leí las redacciones de Rosa y de Elena; me gustaron ambas redacciones.I read Rosa's and Elena's essays; I liked both essays.
- ¿Invito a Emma o a Sara? -Invita a las dos.- Shall I invite Emma or Sara? - Invite them both.
Ambos hermanos se fueron a estudiar a Inglaterra.Both brothers went to study in England.
Los dos niños cantan estupendamente.Both children sing beautifully.
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