When you’re writing a sentence that already contains the word “and,” it can be tempting to use “as well as” instead of another “and.” You probably learned at some point in school or at work that you should avoid using the same words multiple times within the same sentence or paragraph. For this reason, using “as well as” in place of “and” may seem like a good move. You might, for example, write something that looks like the sentence below:
Marie analyzed the survey responses, focus group feedback, usage and analytics data, as well as the observational reports.
The problem is that “as well as” doesn’t actually mean the same thing as “and.”
The word “and” is what we call a coordinating conjunction; it’s a word that allows us to join together two items that have the same status or rank in a sentence. For example, you could use “and” in a sentence like this: “Marco decided to invite Emily and Helena for the next round of interviews.” In this sentence, “Emily” and “Helena” have the same status in the sentence; one woman isn’t more important or more well-known to the reader than the other. If we wanted to know whether Emily or Helena was the front-runner for the job, this sentence wouldn’t give us any hints.
In comparison, using “as well as” allows us to join together two items that differ in their rank or status in a sentence. For example, let’s replace the “and” in the Marco sentence with “as well as”: “Marco decided to invite Emily as well as Helena for the next round of interviews.” This sentence means that not only was Helena invited for the next round of interviews, but Emily was too. It implies that the decision to invite Helena back was either obvious or already known to the reader, whereas the decision to invite Emily back was not; you could even argue that it positions Helena as the front-runner for the job. In this case then, “Emily” and “Helena” do not have the same status in the sentence.
“And” and “as well as” are both appropriate words to use in sentences; you just need to know which one to use based on what you’re trying to say. When you’re listing items that have the same status in a sentence, use “and.” When you need to express something along the lines of “not only X but also Y,” use “as well as.”
Are there other words or phrases that you don’t know if you’re using correctly? Let us know by leaving a comment below and we’ll do our best to incorporate them into one of our upcoming posts.
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Writing Tip: “As well as” doesn’t mean the same thing as “and”