How to Use a Comma With Including

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

Commas separate information, and when you use words like including in your sentences, you infer a separation or continuation of ideas.

Does that mean you also need to use a comma before the word including?

Where you add or leave out a comma changes the meaning of sentences, and knowing their proper placement is the difference between your reader understanding your writing – or being confused. Let’s look at where to place a comma when the sentence also includes the word including.

Why Use the Word Including in a Sentence?

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According to the Oxford Language Dictionary, the word including is a preposition to mean “containing as part of a whole.”

A preposition is a noun that usually precedes a noun or pronoun to express a relationship to another element in the sentence. When used, it provides readers with additional information, examples, or details of a main topic or subject.

This is helpful for a reader to have an understanding of your message. This is especially important when writing for content, such as on a resume (by the way, the same rules in this article apply to the phrase “such as”).

For example:

  • On Wednesday, there is going to be an SAT review including practice sessions and past tests, so students know what to expect.

Basic Comma Rules

Commas play many roles in sentence organization, but one of their main uses is to separate information.

This rule is important. When you see a comma used, you know that the information following its placement is separate (albeit related) to the phrase or clause that preceded it.

For example:

  • We weren’t convinced there would be rain, and I made sure to watch the radar to avoid prematurely canceling the event.

In this sentence, the comma separates two independent clauses connected by a coordinating conjunction (and). Its placement highlights two different complete thoughts: 1) the lack of conviction concerning a rain storm and 2) watching the radar to avoid the cancellation of an event.

If the coordinating conjunction was removed, both clauses would still be complete sentences.

Let’s look at another example where a comma is not used:

  • We weren’t convinced it would rain and watched the radar to avoid the premature cancellation of the event.

The information following the coordinating conjunction (and) is dependent upon the independent clause that precedes it. It is not a complete sentence and could not be a stand-alone idea.

If that information was removed from the sentence, the entire meaning would change from a lack of conviction that led to watching the radar to only being about not being convinced of rain.

When Should You Use a Comma With the Word Including?

Now, let’s combine what we know about the preposition “including” and comma use to determine when we need a comma and when we don’t.

We’ll start with a simple example:

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  • I like cookies including chocolate.
  • I like cookies, including chocolate.

What’s the difference between these two sentences? Do you know?

Let me give you a hint: the placement of the comma changes the meaning of the word including.

In the first sentence, the lack of a comma indicates that I like cookies that include chocolate in them. In the second sentence, the comma indicates that I like all cookies, including chocolate cookies.

See the difference now?

Let’s try another example:

  • I gathered materials from various resources including curriculum building and basic skill assessments.

This sentence indicates that I gathered various resource materials that contain curriculum building and basic skill assessments.

  • I gathered materials from various resources, including curriculum building and basic skill assessments.

This sentence indicates that I gathered materials from various resources, some of which were about curriculum building and some about basic skill assessment.

Let’s Review

When you use the word including in your writing, you provide your reader with more detail and understanding of a central message. However, the placement of a comma can change everything.

Make sure you understand when to use a comma and when not to. Its use can change the overall meaning of your sentence, which could confuse your reader.