Blog/Grammar tips
29 May 2023
5 min read

Punctuation Power-up: Master the Use of a Comma Before "As Well As"

Punctuation Power-up: Master the Use of a Comma Before "As Well As"

Have you ever been in a situation where you're writing a sentence and unsure if you should include a comma before "as well as"? I've been there too, and figuring out the rules can be frustrating.

Commas in the English language can be confusing, especially when it comes to conjunctions. Do we put a comma before "as well as"? Or do we leave it out? The answer may surprise you.

Today we're going to dive into the topic of comma usage before "as well as," and I promise it won't be as complicated as it sounds! We'll review some examples and clear up any confusion you may have had. 

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The Purpose of a Comma Before "As Well As"

Have you ever wondered why writers use commas before "as well as"? It might seem like another punctuation mark, but it can change a sentence's meaning.  

The comma before "as well as" indicates the importance and relationship of the connected terms. It emphasizes both terms while showing that they are separate elements, essential for creating clarity and structure in sentence construction. Without the comma, the sentence might be confusing or even misleading.

But using a comma before "as well as" isn't as simple as slapping one in whenever you feel like it. There are grammatical rules to follow and exceptions to be aware of. Without this knowledge, you could make common mistakes that confuse your readers.

When Not to Use a Comma Before "As Well As"

You should not use a comma before "as well as" when you are using the phrase for:

A synonym for "in addition to": A comma is usually not necessary when the phrase conveys a meaning similar to "along with" or "in addition to." For example: 

  • He brought his camera as well as his tripod.
  • You must keep your morale high as well as dignity. 

In both cases, "as well as" can be replaced with "along with," "not to mention," and "in addition to."

Making a simple comparison between two things: Don't use a comma when the phrase is used to compare two things. For example: 

  • I wish I could be fearless as well as my mother. 
  • Nora cannot dance as well as her sister does. 

In both these examples, "as well as" is used to draw a comparison, and adding a comma would disrupt the flow of the sentence.

When to Use a Comma Before As Well As

Generally, a comma is needed before "as well as" when it connects two independent clauses or introduces a nonrestrictive clause. But what does that even mean? Let us break it down for you.

To add information

An independent clause is a sentence that can stand alone as a complete thought, while a nonrestrictive clause is a phrase that adds extra information to a sentence but is not essential to the meaning of the sentence. For example: 

  • I love to hike, as well as swim.

"As well as swim" is a nonrestrictive clause because it adds extra information but is not essential to the sentence's meaning.

To change the emphasis

Adding a comma can change the emphasis in a sentence and affect how the reader interprets the information presented. Let's look at some examples to help you understand the proper application of the rule.

Let's consider a sentence without a comma before "as well as":

  • I need to buy apples as well as bananas.

In this case, the sentence simply compares two things, apples and bananas, without emphasizing one over the other.

Let's add a comma before "as well as" and see how it changes the sentence 

  • I need to buy apples, as well as bananas. 

With the addition of the comma, the emphasis shifts slightly to the apples. The reader might interpret this as the speaker needing apples more than bananas or simply that the speaker wants to make sure they must include apples in their shopping list.

However, a comma should not be used when both parts are equally important to the sentence's meaning. For example: 

  • I love baking cookies as well as making cakes. 

In this case, baking cookies and making cakes are equally important to the sentence's meaning, so no comma is needed.

Knowing when to use a comma before "as well as" can help you convey your intended meaning and emphasize specific points in your writing. By correctly applying the rule, you can ensure the readers understand the information you present.

Some Rules to Remember When Using “As Well As” and the Comma

You must follow some rules to ensure the sentence is structured properly when using the phrase "as well as" along with a comma.

Remember the subject-verb agreement

The subject before "as well as" should match the verb after the phrase. If the subject before "as well as" is singular, then the verb should follow the rule for a singular subject because "as well as" cannot create a compound subject. For example:

  • My sister, as well as her friends, is coming to the party tonight.

Here, "my sister" is the subject of the sentence, and "as well as her friends" is a nonrestrictive clause that adds extra information about the subject.

  • The team, as well as the coach, is excited about the upcoming game.

In this sentence, "team" and "coach" are not a compound subject but two entities that are both excited.

Using a comma after "as well as"

Let's discuss the need for a comma after using the phrase "as well as" in a sentence. Consider it like adding an extra piece of information within the sentence to make it clearer and more informative.

Think of the phrase "as well as" as an interruption within the sentence that provides additional context. When you start an interruption, it's natural to close it properly after making your point. This calls for a comma, just like how we use parentheses.

The general rule is that if the sentence continues after the "as well as" phrase, you should place a comma right after it. However, if the sentence ends there, a period does the job of closure.

For instance, take the sentence:

  • My family, as well as my friends, wants to see me in the math competition. 

Here, the information after "as well as" adds that the speaker's friends also share the desire. The comma after "friends" helps close the interruption, and the sentence continues with the main clause.

Conclusion

Proper punctuation is about being "grammatically correct" and effective communication. A simple comma can distinguish between a confusing sentence and one clearly conveying your meaning. So, taking the time to understand punctuation rules like using a comma before "as well as" can pay off in ensuring you're understood.

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