We often use phrases such as “in addition to” or “as well as” when we want to add something more to a conversation. Sometimes, these phrases have nuances in meaning and context that are not synonymous with other similar, simpler conjunctions.
It is correct to say “as well as.” This combination of words acts as a multi-part preposition or conjunction. It means “in addition” or “in addition to.” It is not, however, an exact synonym for “and,” though there are times when you can use the two interchangeably. The correct way to use the phrase is to say “X as well as Y” when Y is in addition to X.
Keep reading to understand more about the meaning of “as well as” and how to use it correctly.
What Does “As Well As” Mean?
“As well as” means “in addition” or “in addition to” (source). When you use this expression, you are saying not only “X” but also “Y.” Further, you are placing more emphasis on what comes before “as well as” versus what comes after.
This is why we cannot always use “and” and “as well as” interchangeably. The conjunction “and” joins two equal ideas or expressions while “as well as” places an unequal emphasis on those ideas or expressions, where the latter phrase carries less stress than the former (source).
When you use the phrase to mean “in addition,” you use it as a conjunction or a word that joins or connects ideas in your sentences.
When you use the phrase to mean “in addition to,” you use it as a preposition to introduce another new, connected, or related idea in the same sentence.
In the next section, we’ll discuss grammatical rules and the differences between using the phrase as a conjunction versus a multi-word preposition.
But for now, remember that when you use “as well as,” you are connecting ideas or showing how two concepts are related, one having more emphasis than the other.
Using “As Well As” to Show a Comparison
The phrase “as well as” can also indicate a comparison between two ideas, but in this sense, the word “well” has a different meaning. Here, “well” means “in the same, good way.”
In the following sentence, “as well as” compares how one person did on the test versus another.
- I hoped to do as well as you on the test, but I got a poor grade.
Here, we’ll focus on the meaning of “as well as” as “in addition” or “in addition to.”
Is It Grammatically Correct to Say “As Well As”?
It is grammatically correct to say “as well as.” Remember that its meaning indicates that one thing is in addition or in addition to something else. When using the phrase as a preposition, you add additional information that is not necessarily equally important. Grammatically, the phrase is not synonymous with “and.”
Sometimes, you’ll need a comma with the phrase “as well as,” and at other times, you will not.
For example, when you use the phrase as a conjunction, you don’t need to use a comma before the expression.
However, you will often need a comma when you use it as a preposition to introduce a related idea. Let’s take a look at an example.
Using “as well as” as a conjunction:
- My mother can be very strict as well as gentle.
Using “as well as” as a multi-word preposition:
- My mother, as well as my father, is strict.
In the second example, the comma directly precedes the phrase and follows the object you are introducing in addition to the first.
You may notice that if you replace “as well as” with the conjunction “and” in the above examples, the sentences will still make sense. For example, you can say, “My mother can be very strict and gentle.” You can also say, “My mother and father are strict.”
However, the meaning is more nuanced when you use “as well as.” You are emphasizing one aspect, specifically what comes before the phrase. So, when we use “as well as” in the first example, we are highlighting the fact that the mother is very strict but can also be gentle.
In the second sentence, we again emphasize the mother’s strictness and add additional information (the father is also strict). If we use “and,” the meaning is not quite the same, though you could technically deem both correct.
You may only need one comma if you use the phrase “as well as” toward the end of your sentence. A good rule of thumb for using commas with “as well as” involves whether or not the following words are essential. If they are not, you should use a comma before “as well as.”
Imagine someone asking you if you can play the guitar well. Of course, you want to communicate that you can, but you are also talented with other instruments.
- “Yes, I can play guitar, as well as piano.”
Here, what comes after the second comma is not essential information, and the emphasis is on the former (your ability to play guitar is what the speaker asked about). In this case, you’ll want to add the comma before the phrase.
In English, we call this a nonrestrictive clause because it adds additional information to the sentence and the comma helps to indicate that (source).
Is the Subject Plural or Singular With “As Well As”?
Remember that using “as well as” with the sentence subject does not make the subject plural. Therefore, the verb should always agree with the noun you use before “as well as.”
This can sound a bit complicated, but it is not difficult to understand with an example. Let’s take a look at the sentence below:
- My sister, as well as my mother, wants to come with us to the movie.
Notice that the verb “wants” is plural. It would be incorrect to say, “My sister, as well as my mother, want to come to the party.” The reason is that the verb must agree with the noun preceding “as well as.” Because “my sister” is singular, the verb must agree, and thus we write “wants,” not “want.”
How Do You Use “As Well As”?
You can use “as well as” when you want to communicate that one thing is in addition to another. However, remember that you emphasize the former idea when you use this phrase, so it is not quite the same in meaning as using a simple conjunction like “and.”
You can use “as well as” in the beginning, middle, or end of your sentence depending on what you are trying to communicate. Remember the rules governing commas and subject-verb agreement that we went over above.
Remember, too, that you should avoid using “as well as” if there is no need to place emphasis or you are simply in need of a conjunction to combine two equally essential ideas.
When Can You Use “As Well As”?
You can use “as well as” when you want to add another item or idea connected with the subject you are already talking about (source). Remember that you are emphasizing the former idea differently or placing a different level of significance than the latter.
For example, suppose you want to show that the character in the book you are reading is incredibly brave and also, but less importantly, kind-hearted. In this case, you can use “as well as” to emphasize his or her bravery first and kindness second.
Perhaps other characters are brave but not kind. Using “as well as” illustrates that bravery is an essential character trait, yet his or her kindness can’t be overlooked either: “The main character in the book is brave as well as kind-hearted.”
In What Context Can You Use “As Well As”?
There are quite a few contexts in which you can use “as well as.” For example, whenever you want to join two ideas with an unequal emphasis, you can use “as well as.”
The phrase “as well as” carries a higher level of formality, too–more so than a simple conjunction like “and.”
It conveys a more nuanced, specific meaning to what you are communicating. So you can certainly use the phrase in both formal and informal contexts and in both speaking and writing.
Using “As Well As” in a Full Sentence
Using “as well as” in a full sentence is fairly straightforward, but it is important to remember the rules of subject-verb agreement and comma usage.
Below are a few example sentences showing how you can use “as well as” in various parts of your sentence.
- She was fighting for her country as well as her own home and family.
- Michele, as well as my co-worker Adam, are coming to the party.
Notice that in the above sentence, the verb “are” agrees with the compound subject, “Michele and Adam.”
- As well as eating breakfast, it is important to have two healthy snacks a day.
In this example, notice that we are beginning the sentence with “as well as” as part of an introductory phrase. Therefore, we need to use a comma at the end of the initial phrase (after breakfast).
- I’d like to go to dinner with you, as well as a movie.
When Not to Use “As Well As”
Remember that you should not use “as well as” as a synonym for “and.” The phrase does not simply mean “and,” and you should not use it this way.
The word “and” means that all the ideas or items you are talking about are of equal importance; there is no emphasis on one over the other. Therefore, you should not use “as well as” if you do not intend to place some emphasis on the initial idea/noun.
Remember that “as well as” implies that the initial idea you communicate is more significant than the second.
What Can You Use Instead of “As Well As”?
There are some synonyms for “as well as,” but you should always make sure the connotative meaning is the same. Here are a few close synonyms and synonymous phrases for “as well as”:
- In addition to
- Over and above
- Along with
- Together with
- Among other things
Remember, too, that the above words and phrases, while close in meaning, may also be different parts of speech, so be sure you are using them correctly in your sentences.
Coordinating Conjunctions vs. Multi-Word Prepositions
Coordinating conjunctions differ from multi-word prepositions, even though a multi-word preposition such as “as well as” can function as a coordinating conjunction like “and.” Nonetheless, a multi-word preposition is not quite the same as a conjunction.
A coordinating conjunction joins elements of your sentence that are of equal importance. That is why a conjunction like “and” works so well when you want to communicate two ideas of the same importance or significance.
Other coordinating conjunctions that you will use frequently include “for,” “nor,” “but,” “or,” “yet,” and “so.” Often, we remember these with the mnemonic device “FANBOY,” the initial first letter of each conjunction. Remember, though, that these words combine ideas of equal importance, whether two nouns or independent clauses.
A multi-word preposition differs in that it links elements of your sentences that are of unequal weight or importance. Instead, these prepositions, whether singular or multi-word, show a relationship.
Generally, when you join two nouns with a preposition, the second noun carries less weight than the initial, showing a relationship where the emphasis is on the former element (source).
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
If you’d like to learn more about other common phrases and grammatical concepts to ensure that you are using them correctly in English, take a look at Is It Correct to Say, “Revert to Us”?
Using “as well as” is a more formal, more nuanced way to express two ideas so that you can emphasize the first idea. As long as you can remember a few rules regarding comma usage, this phrase is simple to incorporate into your everyday speaking and writing.