Many people get confused about how to punctuate the phrase as well as in a sentence. Sentence construction rules in the English language can be difficult.
So when do you need to use a comma before as well as?
Most of the time, you don’t need to use a comma before the phrase as well as. The only time you might use a comma is if you want to de-emphasize the following phrase.
In this article, we will explain this grammatical rule and give you examples of sentences using different types of punctuation and the phrase as well as.
How Do You Use a Comma with "As Well As"?
As a general rule, you don’t need to use any commas with the phrase as well as.
Let's start by looking at the purpose of this phrase because as well as can mean multiple things.
Sometimes, it can be used to make a simple comparison. You should never use a comma when you’re using as well as to compare two things.
For example, consider the sentence, “I wish I could paint as well as my dad.”
In this case, you’re using as well as to compare your painting skills with your dad’s. A comma would be grammatically incorrect in this sentence.
Other times, as well as can be a synonym for in addition to, along with, or not to mention. When you’re using as well as in this way, you usually don’t need a comma, either.
For example, you could write, “I like coffee as well as tea.” This sentence means the same thing as “I like coffee in addition to tea.”
You shouldn’t include any commas in this sentence, because the meaning of the sentence is clear without further punctuation.
The only time you might want to include a comma before as well as is if you want to de-emphasize the part of the sentence beginning with this phrase.
Let’s look at this scenario in more detail.
Comma Before "As Well As"
You should use a comma before as well as if you’re using the phrase to introduce something less important than the rest of the sentence.
For example, consider the sentence, “Don’t forget to buy strawberries, as well as ice cream.”
In this sentence, the phrase “as well as ice cream” is an aside—something you might put in parentheses—rather than a fundamental part of the main sentence.
In other words, the comma de-emphasizes the ice cream and makes it sound less important than the strawberries.
If the strawberries and the ice cream are equally important, it might be better to write the sentence, “Don’t forget to buy strawberries and ice cream."
"Strawberries and ice cream” is a compound subject, which places these two things on more equal footing.
Using a comma before as well as is ultimately a judgment call based on whether or not you think the two subjects are equally important.
Comma After "As Well As"
When you use one comma before as well as, you may need to use an additional comma after it.
This is because every time you create an aside mid-sentence, you need to close it later. One way to think about it is by imagining the commas as parentheses instead.
Each time you use an opening parenthesis, you need to use a closing parenthesis later.
If the sentence ends after the phrase beginning with as well as, you can simply end the sentence with a period.
However, if the sentence continues, you should use a comma to demarcate the end of the aside.
For example, consider the sentence, “My mother, as well as my grandmother, really wants me to become a doctor.”
You need the comma after the phrase “as well as my grandmother,” to show that the aside is over.
If you were to write this sentence with parentheses instead of commas, it would look like this: “My mother (as well as my grandmother) really wants me to become a doctor.”
If you’re not sure whether to include a comma before or after as well as, you can run your writing through ProWritingAid, which will highlight incorrect comma usage and help you fix it.
Examples of Punctuation for "As Well As"
Let’s look at some example sentences that include the phrase as well as.
“I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
“You are my best friend as well as my lover, and I do not know which side of you I enjoy the most.”—Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
“The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible.”—Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
“We are our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.”—Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker
“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”—Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility
“It's really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.”—Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus
“I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone. I find spending an hour or two every day running alone, not speaking to anyone, as well as four or five hours alone at my desk, to be neither difficult nor boring.”—Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Top Tips for Using "As Well As"
There you have it: a complete guide for how to punctuate as well as. Here are our top tips:
- When in doubt, don’t use any commas.
- Use a comma before as well as if the phrase beginning with as well as is less important than the rest of the sentence.
- If the sentence continues after the phrase beginning with as well as, use a comma to finish the aside.
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