The Grammarphobia Blog

All’s well that ends well

Q: Lately, a lot of newscasters, politicians, and people in general are using the phrase “as well” instead of the normal “also” or “too,” especially at the end of a sentence. What is this all about? Is it correct? I now find myself using it as well!

A: This use of “as well” is nothing new. In fact, the phrase has been used to mean “also,” “in addition,” “besides” or “in the same way” for more than 700 years.

The Oxford English Dictionary‘s first citation for this use of “as well” comes from Robert Manning of Brunne’s 1303 work Handlyng Synne: “Ryght as she dede, he dede as weyl.”

Or, as we would put it, “Right as she did, he did as well.” Brunne was translating a long poem from Anglo-Norman French into Middle English.

Since the Middle Ages, this usage has been pretty routine. Here’s a more recent citation, from On the Lesson in Proverbs (1853), by Archbishop Richard Chenevix Trench: “We have a right to assume this to be a voice of God as well.”

If these guys could use the phrase, you have the right to use it as well.

Buy our books at a local store, Amazon.com, or Barnes&Noble.com.