Including and such as



I'm wondering if "including" and "such as" can be interchangeably used?

For example:

Exercise has a positive effect not only on bone health but on many other areas of our well-being, including brain, social and emotional development.

Can I replace "including" with "such as"?

Posted 09 October 2002
Either including or such as in this example sentence would be acceptable, although they do have slightly different meanings.

The line between the two expressions is often fuzzy, but there are some differences regarding their meanings and functions. They may both introduce one or more items in a sentence.

Including is related to the idea of "inclusion," while, on the other hand, such as is used to introduce examples. Still, they are often used indiscriminately, since things that are "included" are often also examples of the larger entity. In other cases, they may not be used interchangeably.

Including signals a part-whole relationship, in which the item or items mentioned is/are "contained" in the larger entity. What is included can be one item or several. For example:

She has many powerful friends, including an ex-cabinet member and a high court judge. [The two specific people are part of her larger group of "powerful friends."]

The members of the larger entity need not belong to the
same category:

I have only ten more days, including weekends, to get my house painted.*

Everybody’s upset with me, including my dog.

Punctuation note: When including follows mention of the larger entity, it is preceded by a comma, as seen above.

The idea of "inclusion" is clearly illustrated by this excerpt from an agreement document:

"Copyright and Trademark Information: The information contained at the Site, including but not limited to text and images herein (other than certain images licensed from third parties) and their arrangement, are copyright (c) 1999 and (c) 2000 and (c) 2001 by [X] Technologies Limited."

Including cannot be replaced by such as when it carries certain meanings:

The room rate is less than $100 a night, including breakfast!(The rates include breakfast!)

Including can come before the main clause, but only when it means "if/when we include":

Including taxes and airport fees, the fare is still quite reasonable.

Such as is somewhat different. Such as (in its function that is similar to that of including) introduces a member or members of a category, a class of things or people. It introduces one or more examples of the larger category. For example:

She has made a great many people nervous, such as her grandmother, her uncles, and her husband-to-be.

Our nursery offers a large selection of fruit trees, such as peach, plum, and apple.

Several long-time friends of the groom, such as his two college roommates and his football buddy Jake, were flabbergasted that he actually went through with the ceremony.

Items introduced by such as are representative of a category, to give some idea of the kind of items that are being talked about. When such as introduces examples of a category, it is usually preceded by a comma, as in the examples above.

Sometimes such as does not mean "for example" but rather "like":

There are crystals, of substances such as [like] tourmaline, which are sensitive to the polarisation of light.**

Irresponsible people such as [like] your little brother shouldn’t be allowed to drive!

Sometimes such as is followed by a full clause, in which case it means "of a/the kind that?With this meaning, such as has no comma:

This will be a disaster such as the world has never seen.


We may disclose ... personal information about you, such as we have described above, to the following types of third parties.

It is surprising that including and such as can be combined with the similar marker for example:

The University also has many years of experience in providing undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in related areas including, for example, those provided mainly through the Faculties of Informatics, Business and Management and engineering.

... Some people might want to consider the political figure who made the greatest positive impact, such as, for example, United States President John F. Kennedy.

It is clear, then, that including and such as can often be used interchangeably, but not always.

Marilyn Martin

*Adapted from entry in Longman Language Activator (Longman, 1993).
**Biber et al., Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English (Longman, 1999).