2010-09-02 01:06:34Comprises versus Compose
Patricia Warwick


I noticed a recent article which used comprise incorrectly. The sentence which got my attention was "Multi-year ice is very important because it comprises most of the volume of ice at the North Pole."

This might be more better expressed as "Multi-year ice is very important because it makes up most of the volume of ice at the North Pole."

A useful rule for comprise is that the whole comprises the parts (e.g. my house comprises a bathroom, a kitchen, a living room and three bedrooms.)

On the other hand one could also say that my house is composed of a bathroom, a living room etc. (but not comprised of).


For more detailed discussion see http://mightyredpen.wordpress.com/2007/12/04/comprise-versus-compose

This is one of my pet peeves ... sorry for the mini lecture.

2010-09-02 09:09:56updated
John Cook


Patricia, thanks for the feedback. Graham, I hope you don't mind that I went ahead and updated the rebuttal with Patricia's suggestion. Regardless of the grammatical glitch, I just like the simpler wording - I think with plain English rebuttals, we need to be as plain spoken as possible. I find myself almost getting folky with my plain speaking explanations sometimes - I'm not quite finishing my sentences with "you betchya!" but sometimes it feels like I'm not that far off.

I haven't updated the blog post though. The general practice I have with the website is over time, I tweak and refine the rebuttals - they're the encyclopedic reference and the heart of the website - but I'm happy for the blog posts to stand as snapshots in time.