How do 'as well as' and similar terms affect verb agreement?


Mayor Carlson, along with his deputies, plan to visit the memorial.
Mayor Carlson, along with his deputies, plans to visit the memorial.

Which is right? Plan or plans? And, more important, why is this question hard? The concept at work here, coordination, is simple and, in most cases, 100% intuitive to native English speakers.

None of us doubts that “Mayor Carlson is here” takes a different verb form than “Mayor Carlson and his deputies are here.” We don’t have to puzzle it out.

The “and,” a coordinating conjunction, coordinates the subject, making it plural. So you need a plural verb.

But replace “and” with “as well as” or “along with” or “in addition to” or “not to mention” and suddenly making the verb agree with the subject doesn’t seem so easy anymore. That’s why coordination issues account for some of the most common errors I see in my editing work. Here’s my recent column that looks at how “as well as” and other terms affect verb agreement.

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