Sunday, November 23, 2014

Comprise & Compose


The following sentence appeared in an editorial in the Traverse City Record-Eagle on Sunday, November 23, 2014:

“Safe Harbor, comprised of 23 area churches that open their doors to the homeless during the winter months, has said the group can’t continue indefinitely.”

My quibble is with the wording comprised of. Comprise means to include or contain; compose means made up of or formed by. Safe Harbor, included of 23 area churches . . . makes no sense.

The whole comprises the parts; the whole includes the parts:

·      Safe Harbor comprises 23 area churches.
    America comprises 50 states.
·      The federal government comprises three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.
·      A full deck comprises 52 cards.
·      The English alphabet comprises 26 letters.

Alternatively, the whole is composed of its many parts; the whole is made up of or formed by its many parts:

·      Safe Harbor is composed of 23 area churches.
·      America is composed of 50 states.
·      The federal government is composed of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial.
·      A full deck is composed of 52 cards.
·      The English alphabet is composed of 26 letters.

Finally, the parts compose the whole; the parts make up or form the whole:

·      23 area churches compose Safe Harbor.
·      50 states compose America.
·      Three branches—executive, legislative, and judicial—compose the federal government.
·      52 cards compose a full deck.
·      26 letters compose the English alphabet.

Here is a simple rule that will cut through confusion:
    Never, ever, write or say comprised of.

 


Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to wtcmradio.com and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.





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