And another thing…

On the Singapore classical music station, I am hearing the phrase “as well as” used in place of “and” before the last item in a series.* That irks me at least as much as the host’s pronunciation of “genres” as “John Rez”, which I didn’t even understand the first twenty times I heard him say it.

I mean, would this sound right to you? It’s wrong!

I read fantasy, science-fiction, romance novels, as well as literary fiction.

It could just be a list of four items, in which case, the sentence should just use “and”. If the sentence is going to contain “as well as”, then it should say:

I read fantasy, science-fiction, and romance novels, as well as literary fiction.

Now the sentence isn’t just a list; it means, “Of course I read literary fiction. However, in addition, I also read fantasy, science-fiction, and romance novels!” The list of three surprising genres is followed by the one obvious genre separated by the phrase “as well as”.

Here’s another correct example of how to use the phrase “as well as”:

I, as well as my dad, am allergic to cats.

This sentence doesn’t just mean, “My dad and I are allergic to cats.” It means, “Not only is my dad allergic to cats, but guess what? I am, too!”

And yes, though maybe you think the verb sounds weird, coming, as it does, right after “my dad”, it should indeed be “am” and not “is” or “are”.

The upshot here is that the phrase “as well as” is not a fancier version of the word “and”. When I hear it used that way, the I feel like something is missing, unbalanced, and off-kilter.

But hey, don’t rely on my intuition. Ask the internet. Here is a particularly good set of explanations that adds a surprising note about -ing verbs, as well as upholding what I’ve already said:

http://site.uit.no/english/grammar/aswellas/

 


* …an opera full of passion, sacrifice as well as beautiful arias…