Tuesday’s Tips: Comprise

One of the most misused words in the English language is “comprise.” Most writers use it in constructions like “the committee is comprised of 12 members.” This is incorrect. “Comprise” is a transitive verb (meaning it must have a direct object), and it means encompasses, includes, contains, or consists of. Taking that example, if you replace the word “comprised” with one of its synonyms, you get:

The committee is [included] of 12 members.

You can easily see that this doesn’t make sense. “Comprised” is not the same as “composed.”

One rule to help you remember how to use “comprise” properly: never use “of” directly after “comprised.”

Correct uses of “comprise” include:

The department comprises [consists of] four sections, one for each region.

The faculty will comprise [will include] former media professionals.

Our neighborhood comprised [encompassed] eight families.

I hope this clears up the meaning of “comprise,” so that now you can use it correctly and with confidence.


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