Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Words I'm Looking Up

I bet I've looked up comprise about once a year for the past 10 years. And the most that ever sticks is that comprise doesn't go with of.

Anyway, here I go again. Per the AP Stylebook:

Compose means to create or put together. It commonly is used in both the active and passive voices: She composed a song. The United States is composed of 50 states. The zoo is composed of many animals.

means to contain, to include all or embrace. It is best used only in the active voice, followed by a direct object:
The United States comprises 50 states. The jury comprises five men and seven women. The zoo comprises many animals.

In other words, if you can swap it out for contain, comprise is likely the word you want. Therefore, my brain comprises very little accumulated knowledge about the word comprise.

1 comment:

lieven said...

I was just looking up 'comprise' and 'contain' after a student wrote:
'Being fat contains a series of problems'.
Surely the word should be 'comprises'?
But I haven't found exactly why that is. Abstract (comprise) vs concrete (contain)?
I teach Dutch - English translation in Belgium.


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