"As Well."

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Fri May 4 03:32:18 UTC 2007

>  > In the 1980s the company where I worked (in El Paso, TX) merged
>>  with a firm
>>  from Toronto, and we had an influx of 5 or 6 Canadians, all of whom
>>  used "as
>>  well" for also. As a result, I picked up the usage as well.
>Garner's Modern American Usage (p. 71) identifies sentence-initial
>"as well" 'also' as a canadianism ("this phrase has traditionally
>been considered poor usage.  But in Canada it's standard").

Isn't that funny! I really hadn't noticed (during my sojourn in the
US) that Americans didn't use it. It's exceedingly common in Canada,
and has been as long as I've been around. Some people seem allergic
to using "also" or "too" and use "as well" everywhere "also" or "too"
would work at least as well. This is, not surprisingly, especially
common among businesspeople and others who want their writing to
sound more important. It produces problematic ambiguities from time
to time, of course.

>this, of course, is not the usage this discussion started with, which
>was "as well" used as a sentence-final negative polarity particle,
>where standard english has "either".  there are at least three
>phenomena here:
>1.  sentence-final (positive) additive adverbial: Kim went as well
>'Kim also went, Kim went too'.  standard.
>2.  sentence-initial discourse linker: As well, there are the
>children to consider 'Also, there are the children to consider'.
>disparaged by some, but apparently ok in canada.

OK? Oh yes. Very much OK. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a
majority of Canadians would find "as well" more formal and perhaps
even more correct in that position than "also" -- some do use "too"
there, but that's rarely thought of as so formally correct.

>3.  sentence-final negative additive adverbial: Kim didn't go as well
>'Kim also didn't go, Kim didn't go either'.  non-standard, much like:
>Kim didn't go too.

This usage -- the one that started this thread -- I can't remember
seeing before, or perhaps only once sometime somewhere. It's not in
the least bit common among the people whose speech and writing I
encounter. Which doesn't mean it's not current in some circles in

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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