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In this lesson, we’ll examine the use of the phrase ‘~’as well as’~’ in sentences. We’ll learn about some common mistakes that people make when using this phrase and how to correctly punctuate sentences using ‘~’as well as.’~’

As Well As

What if I told you that the phrase ‘as well as’ is almost always used incorrectly? As well as is a conjunction that means in addition. A conjunction is a part of speech that is used to connect words, phrases, and clauses to each other. Even in textbooks, mistakes are made when using this phrase.

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Let’s examine the proper and improper use of ‘as well as.’

‘As Well As’ vs. ‘And’

The first big mistake people make when using ‘as well as’ is that they try to adjust its meaning. ‘As well as’ does NOT mean ‘and.’ Many people try to interchange them, but that is a mistake because the word ‘and’ suggests that all of the things on a list are equal. ‘As well as’ infers that one of the items deserves emphasis.

For example:

  • Zachary is in Video Game Club and Chess Club as well as on the Academic Team.

This sentence suggests that the Academic Team is more distinguished than the other two clubs. If that is not the case, the word ‘and’ should have been used:

  • Zachary is in Video Game Club and Chess Club, and on the Academic Team.

Try substituting ‘not only/ or but also’ in that sentence:

  • Zachary is not only in Video Game Club and Chess Club but also on the Academic Team.

Is this what you meant? If so, ‘as well as’ was used correctly.

Verb Agreement

As stated earlier, ‘as well as’ is a conjunction, or part of speech, that means in addition.

Determining which form of the verb to use after ‘as well as’ often leads to a common error, such as showing the subject in its plural form.For example, which of the following sentences is correct?

  • The gorilla as well as the orangutan is a primate.
  • The gorilla as well as the orangutan are primates.

If you picked the first sentence, you’re right! Adding the phrase ‘as well as’ before the orangutan does not change the number of subjects (gorilla).Here are a couple of other examples of correct verb agreement when using the phrase ‘as well as.

  • The purple shirt as well as the white shorts is packed in the suitcase.
  • The punch as well as the cookies is prepared for the party.

To double-check your work, simply cross out the phrase to see if you have subject-verb agreement.

  • The purple shirt (as well as the white shorts) is packed in the suitcase. (correct)
  • The purple shirt (as well as the white shorts) are packed in the suitcase. (incorrect)

‘-ing’ Form of a Verb

When a verb directly follows the phrase ‘as well as,’ we usually use the ‘-ing’ form of the verb. This is one of those rules that sometimes doesn’t sound right, even though it is right.

For example:

  • We spent our vacation camping as well as hiking through the mountains. (correct)
  • We spent our vacation camping as well as hiked through the mountains. (incorrect)
  • Howell rented a boat as well as fishing off the pier. (correct)
  • Howell rented a boat as well as fished off the pier. (incorrect)

Comma Use

It is not necessary to use a comma to separate ‘as well as’ from the rest of the sentence unless it is used as a non-restrictive clause. A non-restrictive clause modifies a noun, but omitting it does not change the meaning of a sentence.

For example:

  • I don’t enjoy science as well as math.
  • I don’t enjoy science, as well as math.

In the first sentence, we don’t use a comma to state a preference for math, but in the second sentence, the comma indicates that neither subject is enjoyed.

Lesson Summary

As well as is a conjunction that means ‘in addition.’ It may not be substituted for the word ‘and.

‘ There is no reason to use a comma with ‘as well as’ unless it is used as part of a non-restrictive clause. When a verb follows ‘as well as,’ you will use the ‘-ing’ form of the verb. ‘As well as’ phrases do not change the tense of the subject/verb.

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