The English language is full of important phrases we use and see every day. “Include but not limited to” is one of these phrases. But how do you use this phrase? What does it mean and is there any punctuation for it?
What Does “Include but not limited to” Mean?
When you read the phrase, “include but not limited to,” it’s usually followed by a list of items most often associated with an idea. The caveat with the wording means it can go beyond what’s listed. Although the list mentions specific objects or ideas, the list isn’t bound to only what’s there.
How Do You Use the Phrase?
Often, it’s used in legal documentation and is specific to contracts. Even though the word “include” and the phrase, “not limited to” may seem as though they mean the same thing, they don’t. The qualifying phrase allows for unforeseen items without actually stating them in detail.
Examples of Use
For instance, if you are reading instructions for an all-around multipurpose cleaner, you might read something like: “For use on surfaces that include but not limited to wood, glass, marble, porcelain, stainless steel and etc.”
There will be times when using this phrase that may have a succession of verbs needing agreement. If you were talking about a friend’s many hobbies, you might say, “Her hobbies include but are not limited to – dancing, biking, running, hiking, playing tennis, golfing, swimming and practicing yoga.”
The Verb “to Be”
You will notice the injection of “are” between “but” and “not” to indicate conjugation of the verb “to be.” You always want to ensure your sentence agreement is obvious by making the verb reflect the action of a subject onto an object. In the example above, “her hobbies” is the subject, “are not limited to” is the verb and the subsequent list of hobbies is the object.
How Do You Punctuate the Phrase?
There isn’t any particular punctuation needed when writing “include but not limited to” as long as the list is short. You merely have to put commas in after each item on the list (as given in the examples above) and place the word “and” before the last item.
But, if you have a list that’s longer than five or six items, you want to use a colon (:) or dash (–). Ideally, the dash is for items less than 15 in number but more than five. For 15 items or more, you’d use the colon and then list each item. You can sometimes list each item on a separate line.
Using Language to Convey Meaning
Proper use and command of language allows for better projection of ideas and innermost thoughts. The phrase, “include but not limited to” can apply to daily life and legal documents that will expand your capacity to communicate. You can list concepts in a succinct way so a reader understands the list and knows it can go beyond it.