Using "Include/including" in sentences.

One of my readers asked recently if I would clarify the proper way to use “include” in a sentence. The simple, direct answer is WITHOUT A COLON. Just go right on with what is included. Here are some examples:

The Grammar Glitches that annoy me most include subject/verb agreement and apostrophe goofs.

The newly appointed board members include Sam Jones, Polly Troxell, and Jim Henry.

Notice that neither of these sentences requires a colon after INCLUDE.

If you use the word “including,” it may help clarify to put a comma BEFORE it, but you still do not need a colon after it. More examples:

Everyone survived, including the family dog.

The price for the ticket is $15.75 including sales tax.

The band has five members, including a drummer, two guitars, a violin, and a flute.

The only time you would place a colon after “include” is when you are setting up a bullet list rather than a sentence, as in these examples:

Your choices for the banquet menu include:

  • roast beef with mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans
  • chicken quesadillas with cheesy nachos
  • moo goo gai pan

Optional side trips for this cruise include:

  • visiting a glacier
  • photographing seals at play
  • dining in an old-time saloon

My thanks to Rachel for suggesting this topic.

9 Responses to “Using "Include/including" in sentences.”

  1. admin says:

    To "Anonymous"–

    In answer to your question about using "to include" in a sentence, I would say that "to include" is an old-fashioned usage.  Here is how I would write the sentence example you gave:

    Listen for noises, including rattles, squeaks, and whistles.

    Hope that helps.

  2. David says:

    You're wrong; one cannot use a colon after include in the above examples. The fact that there is a bulleted list afterward is irrelevant; while such usage is common on websites, it is wrong and should not be validated by a website about grammar.

  3. admin says:

    I am sorry, David, but I (and The Chicago Manual of Style) disagree with you. If you will check page 345 (entry 6.124 and following) in that excellent publication, you will see that each of its examples shows a colon at the end of the introduction to a bulleted list. In my workshops on business writing skills, I point out that, when you set up a vertical list, you are suspending normal sentence structure. You are welcome to reply and cite anywhere you can find that questions this, but I will stick with The Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition). You might also check page 350 in The Business Writer’s Handbook (5th Edition), which shows the same type of examples I gave.

    NOTE TO OTHER READERS: I welcome your comments on this as well.

  4. Carrie says:

    Can you start a sentence with the word including?

    Example: The second guest who I would invite to dinner would be Benjamin Franklin because I want to hear about his key and kite experiment. Including, what his thinking, reasoning and planning was leading up to it, what he was thinking while he was setting up and executing it, what he thought about the outcome, and what everyone he knew said and thought about it.

  5. admin says:

    Sorry for the late reply. I have been away for three weeks. To answer your question, the issue is not really whether or not you can start a sentence with INCLUDING. The issue is how you use INCLUDING in relationship to the other words. In your example, you need to place a comma before INCLUDING and remove the one after INCLUDING. But then you end up with a very long string of phrases. Here is what I would suggest–and I hope I’m not too late for your assignment:

    The second guest I would invite to dinner would be Benjamin Franklin because I want to hear about his key and kite experiment, including his reasoning and the planning leading up to the experiment. I want him to tell me what he was thinking while he was setting it up and executing it and what he thought about the outcome. It would also be interesting to hear him talk about what everyone who knew him said and thought about it.

  6. David says:

    Would preceding "including" by a semi-colon be correct; including this example?

  7. admin says:

    No, it would not be correct because the function of a semicolon is to separate two closely-related complete ideas in a compound sentence. A semicolon can be replaced by a period. Here is an example: 

             Paula enjoys reading; she often spends afternoons at the library.  Paula enjoys reading. She often spends afternoons at the library.  

    In your sentence, the phrase INCLUDING THIS EXAMPLE is not a complete idea.Therefore, you need only a pause (comma) before adding it to the end of the sentence. It should read this way:

            Would preceding “including” with a semicolon be correct, including this example? (NOTE: SEMICOLON is one word. Also,I think WITH might be a better word choice than BY, but         that is just a style choice.   

    Hope this helps.

  8. Alvin says:

    Does the word "including" mean that the following list of words is the entire list? 

    "I like food, including apples, meat, and cookies."

    Would this mean that I ONLY like these three things, or that these are examples of things I like in the category given (food)? If not, what word would you use to tell the reader that the list is the complete list? 

  9. admin says:

    Good question. When you use the word INCLUDE, you are suggesting that these three foods are among those that you like. You are not suggesting that these are the only ones you like. If you want to tell the reader that this is a complete list, you would need to write something like this:

          I only like three foods: apples, meat, and cookies.

          The only foods I like are apples, meat, and cookies.

    Hope that helps. Sounds like a pretty good meal to me!

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