Posted by: Jack Henry | August 13, 2018

Editor’s Corner: “To Include” or “Including”?

Lately, I’ve noticed people using the infinitive “to include” when the gerund “including” would make more sense.

Example (Correct): I have visited every national park, including Death Valley.

Example (Incorrect): I have visited every national park, to include Death Valley.

People communicate with different levels of formality. You probably use more formal language when emailing the CEO of your company than you do when talking to a friend.

Many common writing mistakes are a result of using language that is too casual—writing like you speak. I believe that “to include” is an example of the opposite phenomenon: very formal language (like you might see in a legal document) creeping into less formal everyday writing.

Futurity, Arrangement in Advance, or Obligation

According to Merriam-Webster, the word be is “used with the infinitive with to to express futurity, arrangement in advance, or obligation.”

Example: I am to interview him today.

Example: You are to repay the loan in monthly installments.

Although I can understand these sentences, they sound awkward. I would instead write, “I am scheduled to interview him today,” and, “You must repay the loan in monthly installments.”

Most people don’t use the “be + to + infinitive” construction often. It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to imagine a sentence becoming mangled when the tense changes.

Before: You are to submit an application, [which is] to include your birth certificate.

After: We received your application, to include your birth certificate.

The first sentence is awkward; the second sentence is incorrect. The application was already received, so it doesn’t make sense to refer to the future inclusion of the birth certificate.

In technical writing, the goal is to write clearly, not to sound fussy and unnatural. Even if you’re sure that your sentence is grammatically correct, ask yourself whether you can say it more simply.

Ben Ritter | Technical Editor | Symitar®
8985 Balboa Avenue | San Diego, CA 92123
619-682-3391 | or ext. 763391 |

Symitar Documentation Services

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