I am facing a technical problem with the following idea. According to many dictionaries, the word "include", when used, must not precede a complete list.

In my case, I have a "thing" called Support Measures, which has three components: (1) Employment Assistance Services (now this has several things: a, b, c, d, e, etc.), (2) Labour Market Programs, and (3) R&I.

This sentence is wrong: Support Measures include Employment Assistance Services, LMPs, and R&I.

This is correct: Support Measures comprise Employment Assistance Services, LMPs, and R&I.

Question: Is the following sentence correct (not mentioning LMPs and R&I, and using include to mention some of the elements of the first component)?

Support Measures include a wide range of Employment Assistance Services, such as a, b, c, and d.

Will mention the two other components later in the paragraph as they are not important.

  • Your premise if faulty. There is no sense of include that implies a list following the word must be incomplete. – Jason Bassford Apr 6 '19 at 22:23
  • "We should use the verb include to preface a list that is not exhaustive—that is, one naming only a limited number of the items that could possibly be named in the particular context" from here getitwriteonline.com/articles/include-for-lists – AIQ Apr 6 '19 at 22:32
  • I am not a native speaker so I might be wrong. – AIQ Apr 6 '19 at 22:33

Many style guides recommend using include (and its variants) only for lists that are not exhaustive. It is not, however, inherent in the meaning of the word, which is why legal and pseudo-legal documents often use "including but not limited to" to make it clear that a list is not exhaustive.

However, if you use it for a list that is exhaustive, you risk your readers assuming that you would have used another word (or phrase) if you meant it to be exhaustive. Words you can use to indicate that a list is exhaustive include comprise, consist of, be made up of, and I'm sure there are others.

The example in the focus of your question uses include ... such as, which is another way of making it clear that the list is not exhaustive. That is fine, no problem with it at all.

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