Do You Need a Comma Before 'as well as'?

If both groups (clauses) are equally important, do not put a comma before "as well as".

"As well as" connects two groups of words (A as well as B). For example:

  • He is handsome as well as smart.
  • She is taking a shower as well as singing.

A simple rule to determine whether you need a comma before "as well as":

  • If both groups are equally important, omit the comma before "as well as".
  • If the first group is more important than the second (that is, the phrase after "as well as" is not essential), include a comma before "as well as".

When you put a comma, the second part adds value to the meaning of your sentence, but it can be easily omitted without changing it substantially. In other words, you are using nonrestrictive information, which should be surrounded by commas.

In most cases, you don't need a comma before as well as.

1. An Example

Suppose that you are applying for a job in the United States, and the hiring manager is contacting you by email.

Scenario number 1 (without commas)

The hiring manager asks you about your language skills; then, your answer might be something like this:

I can speak English as well as German.

Scenario number 2 (with commas)

Suppose the hiring manager asks you specifically about your English skills. You can reply, using commas, as follows:

Yes, I can speak English, as well as German.

Placing a comma here is correct as well because being able to speak German is not an essential part of your sentence. The hiring manager is talking about your English skills. Therefore, the key part of your sentence is "I can speak English". By using a comma, you keep the focus on your English skills. Your German competence adds value to your profile, but it's not the most important skill in this context.

Subjective Judgement

You should omit the comma in the scenario number 2 if you think that your German skills are equally relevant. A comma before "as well as" conveys that the second part is less important than the rest of the sentence.

Based on your views and the particular situation, you will have to decide whether to put a comma or not. In case of doubt, leave out the comma.

2. Commas when the Sentence Starts with 'as well as'

You can also start a sentence with "as well as". In this case, add a comma after the introductory phrase:

As well as providing support and guidance, school psychologists help children succeed academically.

As well as providing support and guidance school psychologists help children succeed academically.

Note that you can replace "as well as" by "in addition to" in these sentences.

As well as running my food delivery business, I am collaborating with a nonprofit humanitarian organization.

In addition to running my food delivery business, I am collaborating with a nonprofit humanitarian organization.

3. 'As well as' for Objects and for Subjects

You can use "as well as" for objects and for subjects.

Objects

"As well as" is commonly used for objects. For example:

  • I enjoy playing basketball as well as playing tennis.
  • I can play the piano as well as the guitar.

Subjects

Look at these examples:

My father, as well as my brother, is very tall.

My father, as well as my brother, are very tall.

By using commas in the sentence above, we are putting the focus on "my father" rather than on "my brother". As a result, the subject is singular ("my father"), and we use a singular form of a verb ("is"). "My brother" just adds parenthetical information.

Note the comma after "my brother". Nonessential clauses and phrases that occur midsentence must be surrounded by commas.

If you simply want to say that both are very tall (without putting the focus on "my father"), you should leave out both commas and replace "is" by "are":

My father as well as my brother are very tall.

While the sentence above is grammatically correct, the best option in this case is keeping things simple by using "and" instead:

My father and my brother are very tall.

4. Comparison with 'as well as'

If you are using "as well as" to make a comparison, do not use a comma.

  • My sister did as well as you on the algebra exam.
  • I don't play the guitar as well as you.
  • The teacher asked a tough question. I answered it as well as I could.

5. More Examples

  • I need to call my friend as well as do the laundry.
  • As well as exposing global environmental problems, our organization promotes conservation of wildlife in Africa.
  • She wrote some of the best action and adventure novels, as well as a few poetry books.
  • I hope they do it right. It is in their best interest as well as yours.
  • Yoga improves your health as well as provides balance and flexibility.
  • Electric vehicles are better for the environment, as well as quieter than gas vehicles.
  • If you want to be a great investor, you have to be disciplined as well as patient.
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