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The student, as well as his teacher, was/were going on a trip.

Which form of the verb 'be' is correct?

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No, it doesn't use the plural form.

The only subject is "student" because only the coordinating conjunction "and," or possibly "or," would effect subject count for verb conjugation, unlike all other conjunctions. Parantheticals (e.g., "as well as," "along with," etc.), usually found between commas, do not add to subject count, so the proper verb conjugation matches the subject count of the stated subject, not including such phrases. In your example the only subject is "student," which is a singular subject, so the conjugation you would use is the singular conjugation "was," not "were."

See the following explanation from Grammar Book:

Rule 5a. Sometimes the subject is separated from the verb by such words as along with, as well as, besides, not, etc. These words and phrases are not part of the subject. Ignore them and use a singular verb when the subject is singular.

Examples:
The politician, along with the newsmen, is expected shortly.
Excitement, as well as nervousness, is the cause of her shaking.

By the way, even "and" does not add to subject count if it is offset as a parenthetical with commas on either side (e.g., The student, and anyone willing to join him, is going on a trip.). That's because parantheticals are not essential to the operation of the sentence, including information that can be omitted and have the sentence still operationally function with the same gist.

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    That is what I have read but as a native speaker it sounds very odd. I haven't run it through a corpus but most of the searches I've pulled up for similar examples i.e "my wife as well as my kids" - have people using the plural form. It seems an overly prescriptive principle don't you think? Search - google.com/…
    – Mrpeech
    May 26, 2021 at 18:03
  • Not to me, it doesn't seem prescriptive. What I've cited is how I speak and how those around me speak. That's how I was able to rattle off the answer so quickly. I don't commonly hear things like, "My wife, as well as my kids, are..." That just sounds wrong. May 26, 2021 at 18:08
  • "As well as" also gets pushed—often considered incorrectly pushed—into the role of "and" in lists of three or more items: "A, B, as well as C", which again is often considered incorrect. May 26, 2021 at 18:29
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    Good answer, I appreciate it, but possibly you may want to consider a small edit: not "effects subject count", but affects subject count. May 26, 2021 at 18:49
  • @LucianSava - No, I meant "effects" as in "produces," not "affects" as in "influences," not that "affects" wouldn't work there, as well 😉. "And" is the only conjunction that can produce subject count, no other conjunction can since no other conjunction can conjoin another subject. Well, now that I think about it, so can "or," like if the sentence said, "The professors or the student is going." The conjunction "or" effects a singular subject count for verb conjugation since it is the subject nearest the verb that effects subject count. I shall revise my answer accordingly. 👍 May 26, 2021 at 19:28
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Most definitely agreed that "He, as well as I, was invited" is the most grammatical form.

Although "me" in place of "I" is syntactically incorrect as "me" cannot be used in the subject as per the rules of Syntax, but Pragmatics makes it ACCEPTABLE because, in informal contexts or let's say in street language, people do use it a lot.

So, while definitely not saying "He, as well as ME, was invited" falls under any good grammar, it indeed is ACCEPTABLE because of its popular use irrespective of whether educated or uneducated people use or whether used in the street language only.

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  • We can use an object form when it is connected by a preposition. Jul 23, 2023 at 18:11
  • My brother along with me is doing something. It is possible to use an object form when the head noun is connected by a prepositional phrase. Jul 23, 2023 at 18:14

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