This week for Grammar Time, we’re going to take a look at a commonly misused phrase: as well as.
The most common mistake that writers make is assuming that as well as is just another way to say and. While they have similar (but not identical) meanings, these conjunctions have very different grammatical functions.
The first thing to know about as well as is that it does not make subjects plural. Compare the following sentences:
Incorrect: Paxton as well as Emmy love reading.
Correct: Paxton and Emmy love reading.
Correct: Paxton, as well as Emmy, loves reading.
While and makes subjects plural, as well as does not. Its meaning is closer to in addition to than and. Using as well as instead of and adds emphasis. In this example, using as well as emphasizes that Paxton loves reading—the reader either already knows that Emmy loves reading, or it’s not particularly important to them that she does. In contrast, using and implies that Emmy’s love of reading is equally important for the reader to know.
The second thing to know is that as well as can’t replace and in a list:
Incorrect: I need notebooks, markers, folders, as well as pens for school.
Correct: I need notebooks, markers, and folders, as well as pens for school.
Correct: I need notebooks, markers, folders, and pens for school.
Again, using as well as emphasizes notebooks, markers, and folders while deemphasizing pens—but the list still requires an and to be grammatically correct, as in the middle example. If pens are equally important, only and should be used, as in the last example.
The final thing to keep in mind when using as well as is verb forms. When you put a verb after as well as, you should use the -ing form of the verb:
She writes novels as well as teaching 5th grade.
The one exception to this rule is when there is an infinitive in the main clause. Then, a bare infinitive (an infinitive without the to) can follow as well as:
She likes to write novels as well as teach.
And that’s all there is to it. Until next time!