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These properties are particularly useful in travel items which can face varying climates and weather conditions, as well as withstanding the rigors of various transport methods and rough handling.

In the sentence, I think "as well as" means "and, in addition", so it connects two parallel structures, i.e. "face varying climates and weather conditions" and "withstand the rigors of various transport methods and rough handling". But why is it "withstanding ..."? Is my understanding wrong?

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    Your understanding is right. It's withstanding because a) most people don't know how to write and b) as well as brings out the worst in everyone. As well as does not mean and: it means in addition to and is appropriate only when you want to remind people of something that may have been forgotten. – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 13 '14 at 1:43
  • Thank you very much! I am confused with your second point, i.e. "as well as brings out the worst in everyone" . Would you please explain it more clearly? Thank you in advance! – April Nov 13 '14 at 7:38
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    I believe what @StoneyB means here is that the phrase "as well as" is a phrase that is quite commonly misused and misunderstood; a common source of grammar errors. As StoneyB states, though many people may know how to write, few know how to do so properly. – Omnidisciplinarianist Nov 17 '14 at 22:01
  • @StoneyB: Care to post an answer ? Please, pretty please ? <puppy eyes> – Nikana Reklawyks Feb 20 '16 at 14:52
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Your understanding is correct, but incomplete. The sentence that you quote is standard.

This behavior of the idiom as well as is discussed in detail on pages 1316–1317 of The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. In short, it's used in one of two ways:

  • It can be used like and. This is the structure you were expecting.
  • It can be used like in addition to: as well (=in addition) is an adverb phrase modifying what precedes it (cf. "I like peas, and carrots as well"), and the second as (=to) introduces a complement of this as well. This is the structure in the sentence you quote.

CGEL mentions a few consequences of the two different ways it's used:

  • We can say "Jim as well as Sally like it" (with plural verb "like"; compare "Jim and Sally like it"), but we can also say "It's his attitude, as well as his actions, that inspires people" (with singular verb "inspires"; compare "It's his attitude, in addition to his actions, that inspires people").
  • You can sometimes hear people say "both Jim as well as Sally" (though personally I find this one pretty awkward), exactly as if it were "both Jim and Sally".
  • When as well as joins two verbs or verb phrases, the second verb phrase can either use the same form as the first, or it can use the -ing form. (This is the consequence that you noticed.)
  • As well as doesn't always directly follow something. We can say things like "As well as hating homework, she also hated anything that felt like homework" (="In addition to hating homework, she also […]"). It does, however, always directly introduce something.
  • @downvoter: Care to explain why? – ruakh Dec 19 '14 at 18:39
  • Not me, but I can only guess that it is very hard to understand your highly technical answer. Put simply, we're asking if as well as means and, and you're answering that the CGEL concludes that the idiomatic phrase has two distinct structures. Or put differently, you lost me at nested brackets. As an English Learner, please give me simple language. For multi-variable analysis of idioms, I'd go to Linguistics.SE. – Nikana Reklawyks Feb 20 '16 at 15:00
  • @NikanaReklawyks: Hmm, OK. I've edited to make it hopefully less technical. – ruakh Feb 20 '16 at 18:08

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