Comma Before As Well As | Rules & Examples

As well as is an expression meaning ‘in addition to’. In most contexts, you don’t need a comma before ‘as well as’.

Example: No comma before ‘as well as’
Marta is a great dancer as well as an accomplished singer.

You can optionally add a comma before ‘as well as’ if you want to place less emphasis on the phrase that comes after it.

Example: Comma before ‘as well as’ to shift emphasis
He had some reservations about their ideas, as well as their tactics.

But you need a comma before and after the ‘as well as’ phrase when it comes straight after the subject of the sentence.

  • His mother as well as his father encouraged him to believe in himself.
  • His mother, as well as his father, encouraged him to believe in himself.
Note
Similar considerations apply when deciding whether to use a comma before ‘such as’, a comma before or after ‘however’, a comma before ‘too’, or a comma before ‘which’.

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No comma before ‘as well as’ in most contexts

In most contexts, you can use and punctuate ‘as well as’ in the same way as you would use the conjunction ‘and’ – without any commas. ‘As well as’ can be used without commas in the following parts of a sentence:

  • The direct object
  • The indirect object
  • The complement
  • Connecting two verbs
Examples: No comma before ‘as well as’
I asked Ruki as well as Meera.

Patty gave her daughter as well as her grandchildren generous gifts for Christmas.

Elvis Presley was a prolific actor as well as a famous and influential musician.

Waterfowl such as geese swim as well as fly.

In all these contexts, you may optionally add a comma before ‘as well as’. If the phrase following ‘as well as’ is not the end of the sentence, you should also add a comma after it.

By default, a phrase that comes after ‘as well as’ has less emphasis on it than the phrase that comes before. Adding the comma(s) has the effect of de-emphasising it even more, making the ‘as well as’ phrase into a parenthetical and making it seem nonessential to the sentence’s meaning.

Examples: Optional commas before ‘as well as’
I asked Ruki, as well as Meera. [I asked Meera, but, more importantly, I asked Ruki.]

Patty gave her daughter, as well as her grandchildren, generous gifts for Christmas. [It’s expected that she gave gifts to her grandchildren, but it’s noteworthy that she also did so for her daughter.]

Elvis Presley was a prolific actor, as well as a famous and influential musician. [You know Elvis as a singer, but did you know he was also an actor?]

Waterfowl such as geese swim, as well as flying. [You already assume that most birds fly. These ones also swim.]

Note
As you can see in the last example above, when you add the comma, you should use the present participle form of the verb (the ‘-ing’ form: ‘flying’) instead of the base form (‘fly’) after ‘as well as’.

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When you need a comma before ‘as well as’

While the comma can be optionally added in the contexts discussed above, there’s one context where you must add a comma. This is when you use ‘as well as’ straight after the subject of the sentence

The subject is the noun, pronoun, or phrase representing the person or thing that carries out the action of the verb. You can create a compound subject with a coordinating conjunction like ‘and’ or ‘or’. But it’s not correct to do the same with ‘as well as’:

  • Patryk and Karl are coming to the party.
  • Patryk as well as Karl are coming to the party.

‘As well as’ should not be used to create a compound subject. You can fix this error by simply changing ‘as well as’ to ‘and’, as above.

If you want to retain the ‘as well as’ phrase, you need to add commas around it, making it parenthetical. And you need to make sure you still have subject-verb agreement, since the ‘as well as’ phrase no longer counts as part of the subject. The singular noun ‘Patryk’ needs the singular verb form ‘is’:

  • Patryk, as well as Karl, are coming to the party.
  • Patryk, as well as Karl, is coming to the party.

Remember that, as in other cases, this places less emphasis on what comes after ‘as well as’. Here, the statement is mainly about Patryk; Karl is just mentioned in passing. If that’s not what you intend, use ‘and’ instead.

No comma before ‘as well as’ when making a comparison

There’s another, more literal use of the phrase ‘as well as’: using it to make a comparison such as ‘I ski as well as my sister’. When you’re using ‘as well as’ to make a comparison like this, you should never add commas:

  • I ski, as well as my sister.
  • I ski as well as my sister. [We ski equally well.]
  • I, as well as my sister, ski. [We both ski. No comparison is being made.]

Is there ever a comma after ‘as well as’?

No, you shouldn’t insert a comma directly after ‘as well as’ in normal usage. ‘As well as’ is supposed to connect directly to the phrase that comes after it, so it shouldn’t be separated from it by a comma.

  • He spoke to me as well as, to you.

In some rare cases, a comma may appear directly after ‘as well as’, such as when it appears parenthetically as an alternative to some other conjunction or when it is immediately followed by an interrupter. But these cases are quite unusual.

Examples: Comma after ‘as well as’
The new policy will be enforced instead of, not as well as, the old one.

She did make some positive contributions as well as, I must admit, some grievous errors.

If you introduce a mid-sentence phrase with ‘as well as’ preceded by a comma, though, you do always need another comma at the end of the phrase:

  • My mother, as well as a friend of mine suffers from the condition.
  • My mother, as well as a friend of mine, suffers from the condition.

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Comma before ‘as well’

Sometimes, ‘as well’ (without the second ‘as’) is tagged on at the end of a sentence to mean ‘too‘. Adding or omitting the comma in this context is just a matter of personal choice. Adding the comma creates more of a pause before ‘as well’, which may or may not be what you want.

If you use ‘as well’ in this way, follow your own instincts about whether to add a comma:

  • There are snacks and drinks available as well.
  • There are snacks and drinks available, as well.

If you insert ‘as well’ in the middle of a sentence as an interrupter (a phrase that interrupts the flow of the sentence to qualify or emphasise something), then you should add commas both before and after it (not just one comma). Note that it tends to read more smoothly to use ‘too’ in these contexts, though.

  • It wasn’t only my thinking that changed. My habits as well were transformed.
  • It wasn’t only my thinking that changed. My habits, as well were transformed.
  • It wasn’t only my thinking that changed. My habits as well, were transformed.
  • It wasn’t only my thinking that changed. My habits, as well, were transformed.

Worksheet: Comma before ‘as well as’

If you want to test your understanding of how to use commas with ‘as well as’, try completing the worksheet below. Just add commas to the sentences wherever you think they’re needed (or don’t add any if they aren’t needed).

  1. The hotel offers guests access to a gym as well as a swimming pool.
  2. Kara as well as Jim works as a software developer.
  3. I can’t dance as well as you.
  4. This session will offer an introduction to the topic as well as addressing frequently asked questions.
  5. The storm damaged vehicles as well as houses and caused several injuries.
  1. The hotel offers guests access to a gym(,) as well as a swimming pool.
    • No comma is needed before ‘as well as‘ here, but you can optionally add one. Doing so has the effect of further de-emphasising the phrase “a swimming pool.”
  1. Kara, as well as Jim, works as a software developer.
    • You need commas surrounding the ‘as well as’ phrase here. Unlike ‘and’, ‘as well as’ cannot be used to create a compound subject (like ‘Kara and Jim’). Instead, the ‘as well as’ phrase needs to be separated from the subject and treated as parenthetical. Also note that, due to subject-verb agreement, the singular verb form ‘works’ is used to match the singular noun ‘Kara’.
  1. I can’t dance as well as you.
    • Here, ‘as well as’ is not used to mean ‘in addition to’ but simply to make a comparison. When ‘as well as’ is just used to make a comparison, no commas are needed.
  1. This session will offer an introduction to the topic, as well as addressing frequently asked questions.
    • When ‘as well as’ connects two verbs and the second verb is in the present participle form (the ‘-ing’ form: ‘addressing’), a comma is usually added before ‘as well as’. If ‘address’was used instead of ‘addressing’, there would usually be no comma.
  1. The storm damaged vehicles(,) as well as houses(,) and caused several injuries.
    • Here, the comma before ‘as well as’ is optional again. It has the effect of reducing the emphasis on ‘houses’. If you do add this comma, you also need to add one after ‘houses’, because the ‘as well as’ phrase becomes parenthetical. So this sentence should have either both commas or none – not just one or the other.

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Sources for this article

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This Scribbr article

Caulfield, J. (2023, March 14). Comma Before As Well As | Rules & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 22 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/comma/commas-before-as-well-as/

Sources

Butterfield, J. (Ed.). (2015). Fowler’s dictionary of modern English usage (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

Garner, B. A. (2016). Garner’s modern English usage (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr about his specialist topics: grammar, linguistics, citations, and plagiarism. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books.