Language Rules

Definately Fixing Alot Of Americas Grammar 1 Word At A Thyme

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You may believe your body is comprised of cells. You may think the world is comprised of idiots. You may even be certain that this post is comprised of words. The following post comprises the reasons why these statements are mistaken.

To quote from one of my favorite books, Lapsing into a Comma, by Bill Walsh:

Nothing is ever “comprised of” something.

The word comprise is an active verb. Always.

It can mean “to be composed of,” as in, “The casserole comprised eggplant, tofu, and brussel sprouts.

It can mean “incorporate, include or contain, or have as a component,” as in “The response to the demotion of Pluto comprises both sound and fury, signifying nothing,” or “The typical college-age male’s furniture inventory comprises a TV and a mattress.”

It can mean “constitute; form or compose,” as in “The group of howling dervishes comprised a ‘band.’

Quoting again from Bill Walsh:

Even when used correctly, in my humble opinion, comprise and constitute tend to sound stilted. Some form of is made up of sounds better in most cases.

Yup. Contain, include, consists of, and similar terms sound more natural, and you’re less likely to experience a mental bump when you run up against them in a sentence. This sentences comprises my personal belief that we could do without the word comprise.

Written by tiffanytaylor

2006 Sep 1 at 19:27

Posted in grammar

One Response

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  1. It seems strange to say that I’m not allowed use a certain verb in the passive. The fact is that “comprise” has been used in the passive for a century. It’s in Merriam-Webster
    http://m-w.com/dictionary/comprise

    John

    2007 Feb 8 at 00:21


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