Language is easiest to learn when it follows predictable patterns. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. The word “feet” is one of those cases, so is it correct to say “both feet”?
Yes, it is correct to say “both feet.” Since “foot” is an irregular noun, it does not end in “s” in its plural form. Instead, “feet” is the plural of “foot.” The word “both” will always go with the plural form since “both” means “two.” Therefore, you can use “both feet” when referring to two feet together.
This article will cover how to use “feet,” the plural form of “foot,” along with the adjective “both.” You will learn when to use “both feet” and when you should not. So, if you want to learn how to use the phrase “both feet” correctly, keep reading!
Which Is Correct: “Both Foot” or “Both Feet”?
The phrase “both feet” is correct. You would not say “both foot” because the word “both” suggests two of something, and any time you talk about two or more of something, you need the plural form. “Feet” is the plural of “foot.”
You would not say “both foot” since “foot” is singular. You might, for example, say “each foot,” but that does not have quite the same emphasis. “Each foot” focuses on the individual feet while “both feet” focuses on the two together.
Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “Both Feet”?
Thus, it is grammatically correct to say “both feet.” Since “feet” is the plural of “foot,” when you talk about two feet, you would use the modifier “both.”
The noun “feet” is an irregular plural, meaning it does not become plural by simply adding an -s at the end. Instead, nouns like “foot” have to change their spelling, so “foot” becomes “feet” in plural form.
What Does “Both Feet” Mean?
The phrase “both feet” refers to a complete set (or “pair”) of feet. Usually, “feet” refers to those things at the bottom of your legs that you stand on. The word “both” means two things together, so “both feet” means “two feet together.”
Although “feet” often means “those two things you stand on,” it doesn’t always mean that. There are a couple of other meanings as well. First, a “foot” is a unit of measurement equal to 12 inches. A “foot” can also refer to a measure of poetry (source).
The word “both” is an adjective describing the noun “feet.” “Both” refers to two of something, usually together. However, you would not use “both” for more than two, and you only use “both” when referring to two things together (source).
Therefore, when you put together “both” and “feet,” you mean “one foot and the other.” So, for example, if you were to say:
- Both of my feet ache after going to Disney World.
This sentence tells us that each foot together hurts from walking. Because this affects each of the person’s feet, the phrase “both feet” is appropriate.
How Do You Use “Both Feet”?
You use the phrase “both feet” to emphasize an activity or condition that involves each foot simultaneously. Using “both feet” allows your reader or listener to understand the action you’re describing involves two feet instead of one.
There are a few such activities where you might use “both feet.” For example, you might jump with both feet. You might say so as in the following sentence:
- I jumped in the pool with both feet.
At first glance, the phrase seems redundant — you cannot jump into a pool without both feet. However, saying it in this way communicates a way of jumping — you push yourself off the ground with two feet simultaneously.
You might also describe a way of standing — that is, you stand on two feet instead of only one. This would show that you are standing stably and steadily. For example:
- I stood up on both feet.
When Can You Use “Both Feet”?
You can use “both feet” any time you wish to refer to two feet together. You might want to do so for several reasons. For instance, you might want to describe something that you do with both feet at the same time.
You will only use the phrase “both feet” when referring to a complete set of two. Since humans have only two feet, you can use “both feet” when referring to the two feet as a set. For example:
- I walked all day, so I have blisters on both feet.
The above sentence lets the reader know that both feet — the right and left foot together — have blisters on them and not just one.
In What Context Can You Use “Both Feet”?
You can use “both feet” in many expressions, as well as any time you need to talk about a pair of feet. The phrase “both feet” means “two feet together,” so you can use it in several situations where you describe something involving a person’s two feet.
For example, you might want to describe an action or condition affecting each of a person’s feet. For example, say someone were to prop their feet on a table. Then, you could say:
- He propped both feet on the table.
You may want to use the phrase “both feet” when giving directions and to be clear that the person you address should not just focus on one foot. For example:
- Set both feet shoulder-width apart.
This tells your listener or reader to move both feet to line up with their shoulders, not just one, providing a more stable stance.
You can also use the phrase to describe something that someone might do with their feet and something that their feet might experience. For example:
- Both feet are asleep, so they feel tingly.
The above example is about something the speaker’s two feet are experiencing. Any time you describe something involving a person’s two feet, you can use “both feet.”
Using “Both Feet” in a Full Sentence
There are a few ways you might use “both feet” in either a literal or a figurative way.
First, you can use “both feet” whenever you want to emphasize that the person is using both of their feet. There are a couple of reasons you might do this.
Check out this example:
- You have to touch the ground with both feet for it to count as a catch.
The above example is a rule in sports. Because it is a rule, it needs to be specific. Therefore, you can use “both” to emphasize that you need two feet on the ground — not just one.
You can also use “both feet” as a part of an expression. For example, we have already seen that you might say “both feet” to describe the act of jumping. You might also use this as an expression (source):
- He really jumped into his new job with both feet.
In the above sentence, the subject does not actually “jump” into his job. A job is not the kind of thing a person can jump into. Instead, it means that he began his job wholeheartedly, the way that jumping with both feet commits you to the jump.
Similarly, the phrase “both feet on the ground” can act as an expression. It communicates that someone is stable in how they think or behave. For instance:
- I trust Janet to make a good decision; she has both feet on the ground.
Taken literally, you might assume these are two unrelated remarks about Janet. However, if you understand that “both feet on the ground” is an expression meaning “Janet is a stable, sensible person,” you understand why it means you can trust her judgment.
When Not to Use “Both Feet”
There are some instances where you will not want to use “both feet.” First, you might not want to say “both” feet because you mean only one foot. Also, you might mean both feet, but adding the word “both” would be redundant.
If you only want to talk about one foot, you have a couple of options. First, you could simply use the singular noun “foot.” Then, if you want to be more specific, you might add “right” or “left.”
You would also not use “both feet” when discussing more than two feet. For example, a chair has four feet, so you would not say “both feet” when referring to all of the chair’s feet. Instead, you would say “all” like so:
- All of the chair’s feet need covers.
You might also wish to avoid “both feet” when it becomes redundant. That is, you do not need to say “both” every time you talk about two feet. You might say, for example:
- He stood on his feet and faced his enemy.
You could easily insert “both” in the above sentence and not change the meaning. The word “both” is implied, but it isn’t necessary. You should use “both” for emphasis, so most times you mention “feet,” you will not need it.
While “both” implies the number, it is not an exact synonym for “two.” So in instances where you are measuring something, you would say something like:
- The box was two feet wide.
First, notice that in this sentence, the word “foot” means “a unit of measurement around 12 inches.” However, you would not say “both when you are measuring.” Instead, use “two.”
What Can You Use Instead of “Both Feet”?
Since “both” suggests two of something, you can use some synonyms for “both” to communicate that you mean two feet. Sometimes, “two feet” is more accurate than “both feet,” especially for certain expressions.
While “both feet” is correct for some of the expressions we saw earlier, sometimes, you should use “two feet” instead. For instance, you will want to do this in the expression “his/her/your own two feet.” Consider the following:
- He is standing on his own two feet now.
The above expression means “to be self-sufficient.” Even though you could say “standing on both feet,” it does not quite get the saying correct. The most recognized version will be “standing on [his or her] own two feet” (source).
Many of the expressions that use “both feet” can use “two feet” as well. “Two” and “both” suggest the number “two,” but “both” also implies that there are only two. For example, if you said:
- The lizard put two feet on the glass.
You would be correct since lizards have four feet. However, you would not say “both feet” because lizards have more than two. Instead, you might say two feet.
Irregular Plural Nouns
An irregular plural noun is one that does not take on the typical -s or -es ending. There are a few ways that an irregular noun might become plural. Some, like “feet,” change their spelling while others, such as “sheep,” do not change at all (source).
Let’s look at some other irregular plurals like “feet”:
In each of the above examples, the word changes spelling. Unfortunately, these spelling changes don’t follow a pattern. For example, “mouse” becomes “mice” in the plural, but “house” becomes “houses.” You have to memorize the irregular nouns to know them.
There are other ways that irregular nouns become plural as well. Some irregular nouns take on an -s like with other nouns, but the spelling changes. Examples include “hoof” (hooves), baby (babies), and “calf” (calves). This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
There are also some nouns that do not change at all. For instance, “sheep” and “deer” stay the same, whether you mean one or a dozen. The only way you can tell if they are singular or plural is the context (source). For more on irregular nouns like “sheep,” check out our article “Is It Correct to Say ‘Sheeps’?”
While “both feet” is a short phrase, it can be tricky if you are unfamiliar with some of English’s irregular nouns. “Both” suggests two of something, but “feet” does not end in the “s” that most plural nouns have. You might think that it is a singular noun.
If you learn irregular nouns, then you know that “feet” is the plural of “foot.” Unfortunately, this is one of those words you have to memorize. But if you follow the advice in this article, you can use “both feet” correctly.