Which sentence is correct?

She, as well as her parents, love Dwayne dearly.

She, as well as her parents, loves Dwayne dearly.

I thought it would be love as in “they love him dearly”. But MS Word editor says it’s loves, as it is referring to the she in the statement. But MS Word editor is far from perfect.

  • 1
    Anything separated by commas can be removed from the sentence without affecting the subject-verb agreement. Do that and see what you think. Dec 21, 2016 at 15:30
  • BTW Just as a test, take the same sentences and drop the commas in Word. If your version of Word works the same as mine, it does not matter if there are commas or not: "loves" will be the correct choice--at least as far as Word goes. Dec 21, 2016 at 17:11

3 Answers 3


When a sentence contains secondary clauses or phrases, that portion is ignored when determining subject/ verb agreement. Scroll to item 17.5f in this guide for a reference.

In your case, the phrase "as well as her parents" forms such secondary item, and if we imagine deleting it:

She loves Dwayne dearly.

Then we clearly need the singular form of the verb, loves. This must remain true even when we add the phrase back in.

If you really want to remove ambiguity, you could completely rephrase your idea and make the parents part of the subject:

She and her parents all love Dwayne dearly.

  • I'm not at all happy with the answers here. To me it seems far more natural to say She, as well as her parents, love Dwayne. Whether that's because I'm British or not, I have no idea. My own view of all these issues over verbs which have both singular and plural claims is to say whichever sounds right to you.
    – WS2
    Dec 21, 2016 at 18:18

The correct would be 'loves' because the "as well as her parents" is not subjected to the rules of the original context.

In essence, the sentence is saying "She loves Dwayne dearly." This is evident with the use of commas around the excerpt "as well as her parents".

Consider the "as well as her parents" to be inside brackets.


As well as is a conjunction and does not mean AND.

AS WELL AS does not make the subject plural

John, as well as Mary, want to drop the course. [incorrect]

the verb want must agree with the noun preceding as well as in this case.

John, as well as Mary, wants to drop the course. [correct]

In other words, when we want to use as well as as a part of the subject, the verb must agree with the noun before as well as.

It could be (and has been) argued that it is actually irrelevant whether the parenthetical element is set off by commas or not.


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