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What is the proper way to punctuate a sentence containing "as well as"?

For example, in the sentence:

I hope to provide students with a solid foundation in the field as well as challenge them with the contemporary problems facing practitioners.

Should there be a comma

  • before the first "as",

  • after the second "as",

  • both, or

  • other?

8

Before the first as:

I hope to provide students with a solid foundation in the field, as well as challenge them with the contemporary problems facing practitioners.

Think of the comma as separating two thoughts. The first thought is providing students with a solid foundation in the field, while the second thought is as well as challenging them with the contemporary problems facing practitioners. The as well as belongs to the second thought, so the comma separates it from the first.

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If you replaced 'as well as' with another conjunction (such as 'and') then it wouldn't take a comma. For this reason I would not use a comma; however, this is something I have trouble with so feel free to disagree..and hopefully explain your reasoning.

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According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, both commas are used if the information introduced by "as well as" is interjected into the middle of the sentence and serves as a parenthetical element (part of a sentence that can be removed without changing the essential meaning of that sentence).

Example: "The coach, as well as the team, is ready."

If the information introduced by "as well as" is tacked on to the end of the sentence, as in your example, then there are no commas.

Example: I hope to provide students with a solid foundation in the field as well as challenge them with the contemporary problems facing practitioners.

Although it may feel like there should be a pause in the middle of such a long-winded statement, that feeling does not make the comma's inclusion grammatically correct. Also, using a comma to separate two thoughts in one sentence is sometimes grammatically correct, but not always.

protected by tchrist Sep 7 '17 at 23:46

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