Also, As Well and Too

Three Ways to Say More

There is an expression in English, "Less is more", which means that brevity is sometimes the most meaningful style of expression. However, in the professional world, we often need to communicate a lot of information at once without losing the reader's attention. Finding the right way to link ideas and phrases is a crucial factor in organising what you want to say. This article will focus on the use of also, as well and too, some little words which go a long way.

You are not going to find a chapter in your grammar book devoted to also, but this short word is worth studying for a moment. Also is deceptive because it seems so easy to translate it directly into other languages (aussi in French, ook in Dutch, etc.), but where would you place also in a sentence? Normally, it comes before the verb, as in "She also speaks French," or the verb may be implied, as in "She speaks French and also (speaks) Dutch." Placing also at the end of the sentence, though not absolutely incorrect, sounds unnatural.

Non-native speakers of English tend to run into difficulty in using the adverb also with the verb to be. Although it is quite correct to say "She also speaks French," or "She also has a French passport," this leads many people to say "She also is a French citizen." Normally, that should be "She is also a French citizen," unless you want to place some particular emphasis on the subject, she. Just remember, the is takes priority. Say "My sister is also coming to visit," not "My sister also is coming to visit," which does not sound right at all.

You might as well

What is the difference between also and too? And what about as well? Both too and as well can be used as synonyms of also but are generally placed at the end of the sentence, after the verb and direct object. The choice between too (pronounced exactly the same as to and two) and as well is mostly a matter of preference. Too has a slightly informal connotation, so if you are writing a business letter, it would probably be better to stick to as well, for example "Our company offers a complete guarantee as well."

Another use of as well which is practically indispensable for business writing is the combination with as. In fact, you may wonder how you ever managed to write a text without it. As well as is a set phrase which means in addition to. You will often see sentences such as "Our company offers a complete guarantee as well as 24-hour telephone support," or even, "As well as offering the very best service to its customers, the company specialises in advanced product development." Although it is frequently used in commercial texts, this form is not restricted to business writing, of course. As well as can take the place of and, but it is not considered to have the same conjunctive force to bind two subjects into one. Consequently, you would say "The parent company, as well as its affiliate, was named in the indictment," retaining the singular verb. If you would say "The parent company and its affiliate were named," you would of course use a plural verb.

Too complicated?
Don't get stressed.

While we are on the subject, let us look at the word too. There are two cases in which the word is spelled with a double O. This is what is known as the "stressed" form of the preposition to. One case is when the word is used to mean also, as mentioned above; the other is when it is used in the sense of "too much", meaning "excessively". "The coat was too big, the trousers too short, for he was a tall man," (J. Steinbeck). There are also countless idiomatic expressions such as "Oh, that's too bad," (meaning, "That's a pity.")

Variation is important in a written text. It is a good idea to use synonyms when you can. You may also want to try together with, along with, and in addition to to spice up your style. Besides using different words, think about changing your sentence structure. These three phrases lend themselves particularly well to placement at the beginning of a sentence. "In addition to an excellent command of English, our staff offers thorough knowledge of all products." In the fast-paced professional world, it is essential to keep your message brief and clear. However, variation does not necessarily mean complication. It simply makes your texts more interesting to write and to read.

Kate Grady