You’re Probably Using The Word ‘Comprise’ Wrong

After I lovingly explained the difference between “who” and “whom,” one dear reader caught onto the fact that I’ve been on a one-woman crusade to purify our world of all your terrible grammar. The person I know only as “Fabian Knockwurst” came to me with a request to “do to comprise next,” and I am happy to oblige.

This is an especially good one to cover because the incorrect use of “comprise” is now so common that it’s probably this close to becoming an accepted use. So let’s consider this a grammatical Hail Mary pass ” one last-ditch effort to get you guys using the word you actually mean. Which is: “compose.”

“Comprise” is a verb that means “to consist of,” “be made up of” or “be composed of.” To check whether you’re using it correctly, swap out “comprises” for “consists of” or “includes.”

Example: The team comprises players of all skill levels. (The team consists of players of all skill levels.)

The team is not, however, comprised of players of all skill levels. No, the team is composed of players of all skill levels. Compose is a verb that means “to make up.” I know, I know; so close. But not the same. The pieces compose the whole; the whole comprises the pieces.

Look, if all else fails, just remember that the phrase “comprised of” will never be correct. Grammar Girl puts it this way:

Just as you can’t say, “The house includes of seven rooms,” you can’t say, “The house is comprised of seven rooms.” You have to say, “The house comprises seven rooms.”

Or just stick with “is made up of.” I won’t judge.

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