Using connecting words can get tricky, especially when the terms have nearly the same meaning but very different usages. Such is the case with “and” and “as well as.”
You already know that “and” can connect two nouns and make a plural subject that takes a plural verb. But how does a verb change when you use the connector “as well as”?
When you use the connector “as well as” before the verb in a sentence, you should conjugate the verb according to the subject. If you have a singular noun as the subject of the independent clause – that is, the clause that does not include the phrase “as well as” – use “is” for the verb “to be.” But, if you have a plural noun as the subject of the independent clause, use “are” for the verb “to be.”
Let’s take a deeper look at the rules for the connector “as well as” and check out several examples of these three little words in action!
Is “As Well As” Singular or Plural?
Because we usually use “as well as” as a multi-part preposition or conjunction to give extra information, we need to use the verb form that correctly pairs with the sentence’s main subject.
So, if the main subject of the independent clause is singular, then we use a singular verb. When the main subject is plural, we use a plural verb.
It’s important to remember that you should never place the main subject of the sentence inside the “as well as” noun phrase. You need to look away from “as well as” to find the main subject and correctly choose the main verb that corresponds to the main subject’s number.
Let’s look at a few examples to see that rule come alive. The subject is in purple, and the verb is in red.
- The moon, as well as the stars, is not visible on this cloudy night.
Here, “the moon” is the main subject of the independent clause, so we use the singular verb “is.”
- As well as a giant watermelon, there are three sandwiches in the picnic basket.
Here, “three sandwiches” is the main subject of the independent clause, so we use the plural verb “are.”
- The market is famous for its fish, as well as veggies and fruit.
In this sentence, the prepositional phrase that includes “as well as” falls at the end of the sentence after the independent clause. “The market” is the sentence’s main subject, so we can easily choose “is” as our main verb in this case.
What Does “As Well As” Mean?
“As well as” is a phrase that connects two nouns, verbs, or adjectives. It has a similar meaning to connecting words “and,” “in addition,” and “also” (source). When “as well as” joins two or more things, it appears within a noun phrase as a conjunction. Otherwise, it is a multi-part preposition meaning “in addition to.”
On its own, “as well” is an adverb meaning “in addition,” “also,” or “too” (source). You will find “as well” at the end of a clause.
- We’d love to hang out with you and your husband as well.
Adding “as” on the end of the adverb “as well” creates a connective that can function as a multi-word preposition or a conjunction.
- We’d love to hang out with you as well as your husband.
Even though “as well as” has a meaning similar to “and” in the latter example, the connective operates by different rules. These special grammar rules separate “as well as” from other connecting words and phrases.
For more on the definition and correct usage of the phrase “as well as,” check out our article “Is It Correct to Say “As Well As”?”
Let’s take a look at how to use “as well as” along with some specific examples of when and in which context to use this connective phrase.
How Do You Use “As Well As”?
The connective expression “as well as” often appears after the main subject to connect a noun phrase for extra information. “As well as” can do this as a multi-part preposition or conjunction without impacting the completeness of the sentence. Either way, you can set the noun phrase apart with a comma, end with a comma, or both.
You can use the phrase “as well as” to list extra nouns, verbs, and/or adjectives that apply to the broader context of the sentence. Essentially, you use “as well as” to add information that will add to or clarify the sentence’s independent clause.
Typically, you will use “as well as” as a multi-part preposition or conjunction. Prepositional phrases add information to a sentence adverbially or adjectivally. They are not crucial to the meaning of the sentence.
- Trey invited Janette as well as Ben.
Conjunctions add information by linking equally important information. However, “as well as” indicates that the information it adds is not equal to the meaning of the sentence. It is more like an afterthought (similar to adverbial “as well” in the previous section).
This is why the verb must match the main subject, not the noun following “as well as.” Notice the following sentence:
- The students, as well as the teacher, are tired after a long day of lessons.
Here, we have two nouns that are joined together with “as well as”: “the students” and “the teacher.” One is plural, and one is singular. Yet, we used the plural verb “are” as the main verb in the sentence because the main subject of the sentence (“the students”) is plural.
Here’s an instance where “as well as” connects two adjectives:
- The house is old as well as drafty, so it’s difficult to keep it warm in the winter.
In this example, the phrase “as well as” is a conjunction that joins the two adjectives “old” and “drafty.” It gives extra information and an extra adjective to help modify the noun “the house.”
Finally, let’s have a look at a sentence where “as well as” modifies a verb or action:
- Macey writes as well as her classmates do, and her speaking skills are even better!
Here, we use “as well as” to answer the question, “How well does Macey write?” The phrase “as well as” shows that we’re comparing Macey’s skill or ability with the skills or abilities of her classmates.
When Can You Use “As Well As” With “Is”?
You can use “as well as” with “is” when the main subject is singular (i.e., the noun that comes outside the commas or the noun that doesn’t immediately follow the phrase “as well as”).
We call this rule subject-verb agreement. It means that if you have a singular subject, you need the singular form of the verb, too (source).
To determine if you can use “is,” you should check the subject of the independent clause; this is the main subject of the sentence. The main subject will not be inside the phrase “as well as” introduces.
If the main subject of the sentence is singular, you should use “is” as the correct form of the verb “to be.”
In What Context Can You Use “As Well As” With “Are”?
You can use “as well as” with “are” if the main subject of the sentence is plural.
To find out if you can use “are” in a sentence with “as well as,” see whether the subject of the independent clause is plural or singular.
Remember, the main subject is not inside the “as well as” phrase! Rather, it’s the noun that comes at the beginning of the independent clause before the main verb of the sentence.
If the main subject of the sentence is plural, you should use “are” as the correct form of the verb “to be.”
For a more in-depth look at tricky examples of subject-verb agreement, check out our article “Neither Is or Neither Are: Which Is Correct?”
Using “As Well As” With “Is” in a Full Sentence
We can use “as well as” at the beginning, middle, or end of a full sentence. While the usage rules are pretty much the same in every position, it’s important to pay attention to the position of commas.
Many native English speakers want to use a plural verb with “as well as” because they are thinking of the actual number of people or things referred to rather than grammar rules. In that case, “are” is correct situationally but not grammatically.
Since “as well as” does not add a noun of equal importance to the subject, the number of the verb must match the number of the subject grammatically. Thus, if you wish to give another noun equal importance, simply use “and.”
Otherwise, you may use commas around the “as well as” phrase when the main subject is singular to signal your readers that the phrase and its noun are set apart from the main subject. Unless the phrase comes before the main subject, you are not required to use any commas.
“As Well As” at the Beginning of a Sentence
Here’s an example where we use “as well as” at the beginning of the sentence:
- As well as going to the movies, Kevin enjoys swimming and playing football.
In this example, “as well as” starts a list of three things: 1) going to the movies, 2) swimming, and 3) playing football. All three of these activities form a list of things that Kevin likes to do. We can use “as well as” to show that “going to the cinema” is one of several items on that list. This list is the object of the verb in this sentence.
“As Well As” in the Middle of a Sentence
Now, let’s check out a sentence where we use “as well as” in the middle:
- The glass, as well as the spoon and plate, is dirty.
Here, the noun “the glass” is outside of the “as well as” phrase. This means that “the glass” is the subject of the independent clause; it’s the subject of the sentence. Since it’s only one glass, we use the verb “is” to match the singular subject.
“As Well As” at the End of a Sentence
Finally, let’s have a look at an example where “as well as” comes toward the end of the sentence, after the main verb:
- The baby is happy and satisfied, as well as her parents.
In this instance, you can see how the phrase “as well as” includes a plural noun. However, since the subject of the independent clause is singular, we use the verb “is.”
When Not to Use “As Well As” With “Are”
You shouldn’t use “are” with “as well as” if the main subject is singular.
Check out the sentences below to see correct and incorrect examples of when to use “are” with “as well as.” The main subjects are in purple, and the verbs are in red.
|The employees, as well as the boss, are looking forward to the holiday next week.||The employees, as well as the boss, is looking forward to the holidays next week.|
|As well as the cats, the dog at my house is black.||As well as the cats, the dog at my house are black.|
|The students in the hallway are too loud, as well as the students in the classroom.||The students in the hallway is too loud, as well as the students in the classroom.|
These examples show that the number of subjects within the independent clause indicates whether the verb is singular or plural. In all three instances, that noun was plural, so we used “are.”
For more examples of subject-verb agreement issues, have a look at our article “All Is or All Are: Which Is Correct?”
What Can You Use Instead of “As Well As”?
Several connecting words have a similar meaning to “as well as,” including “and,” “also,” and “in addition (to).”
Of course, all of these words have very different usage rules from “as well as,” so make sure you tweak the grammar and syntax of your sentence to accommodate these synonyms in your writing.
If you want to join two complete sentences of equal importance with a connecting word, you can use “and.” When adding another noun of equal importance, you may use “and” or “and also.”
- Let’s invite Don as well as John.
- Let’s invite Don and John.
- Let’s invite Don and also John.
You can use “in addition (to)” in place of prepositional “as well as.” This will add extra information, but it will not be equally important to the sentence’s main clause.
- Let’s invite Don in addition to John.
“As Well As” as a Comparative
In addition to its typical role as a connector, the phrase “as well as” is also an adverbial phrase that compares two actions. You can also use “as well as” when you compare the skills or outcomes of two different people or events.
For example, if you want to say that your friend Mary is great at cooking, you can compare her skills to those of a professional by saying, “Mary cooks as well as a celebrity chef!” Here, you are saying that her skills are just as good as the skills of a celebrity chef.
Or, you can rave about your cousin Bob’s concert by saying, “Bob played the song as well as the original artist!” This means that you enjoyed his cover performance as much as you’d enjoy a performance from the original band.
This article was written for strategiesforparents.com.
You’ll notice that we use “as well as” to describe an action or completed event. In our examples, we used the verbs “to cook” and “to play.” You can use “as well as” to compare one person’s actions to those of another.
You can use the connecting phrase “as well as” to build a list of things, activities, or descriptions. The term “as well as” usually appears after a sentence’s main subject to add extra information, but it can occur in the middle or at the end of a sentence as well.
To determine whether you should use “is” or “are” with the phrase “as well as,” you should look for the main subject of the sentence’s independent clause. Do not look at the noun that follows “as well as”! If the main subject is singular, use “is”; if it is plural, use “are.”
Now, you, as well as I, will use “as well as” correctly!