Another Writer gets Comprise right

rogersgeorge on October 30th, 2017

“Comprise” is frequently treated as a fancy (read pretentious) synonym for “compose,” particularly in the circumlocution “is comprised of.” Ick. Don’t ever say (or write) that.

So when I see someone do it right, the sentence is worth mentioning. It’s from This Day in History for October 25:

The work of Picasso, which comprises more than 50,000 paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures, and ceramics produced over 80 years, is described in a series of overlapping periods.

Here’s the rule: One comprises many, many compose one. In this case, one (work) comprises 50,000 works of art.

I try to include an illustration of some sort in these posts, so here’s me killing two birds with one stone: Pictures of Picasso himself, painted by Picasso himself.I’m not particularly a fan of Picasso’s work—I rather prefer the Pre-Raphaelites myself—but there you have it.

Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed

Test Answers 4

rogersgeorge on September 12th, 2017

Last chance to go take the test without seeing the answers!

The last five questions:

  1. It was about 3 or 4 feet long, looked like a long piece of linguine (same color, similar width), except if you looked a little carefully, it was actually comprised of connected rhomboid like sections. [this one has two goofs, not counting that the 3 and 4 should be spelled out. Find both.]
  2. While China is beginning to assemble its own tunnel-boring machines, it still relies on critical, foreign-made components that its own industries can’t manufacture on its own. [first word should be “Although” or “Whereas,” but I’m looking for a different goof.]
  3. Clicking Refresh Catalog in the catalog, updates the usage information.
  4. The amount of tabs you have open at any one time has a direct impact on the performance of Chrome, as well as how much RAM the application consumes.
  5. Feminism is not a stick with which to beat other women with.

The answers:

  1. Using numerals for numbers below ten is normally a faux pas in writing, but that’s not the goof I’m thinking about. They said “comprised of”! It’s “composed of” or even “comprising connected …” For shame! Talk about being pretentious, that’s it! The other goof is a missing hyphen. It should be “rhomboid-like sections.”
  2. This one is easy. “industries” is plural, “its” is singular. Make them agree: Use either “industry…its own,” or “industries…their own.”
  3. Get rid of the comma. Never separate a subject and verb with one comma. I recommend you make “Refresh Catalog” stand out, too, with a style, quotes, italic, or bold.
  4. AAK! They should have “The number of tabs” because you’re counting, not measuring.
  5. The sentence has an extra “with” at the end. Get rid of it. In other words, proofread your work. You got that one, didn’t you?

So there you have it. If you teach English know some writers, or just want to annoy your friends, you have permission to print the quiz and hand it out. Then tell them the answers, of course.

Tesla Gets Comprise Right

rogersgeorge on May 16th, 2017

This is part of a strip about Nikola Tesla, quoting part of his autobiography. Follow the link to see the whole thing. Yes, I have a thing about getting “comprise” right (see the text at the bottom of the picture), but I recommend Zen Pencils anyhow because it’s a good, often inspirational comic. Go poke around the site.

Compose and Comprise

rogersgeorge on April 24th, 2017

I’ve been posting things that people get wrong a lot lately, and here’s another one, that someone (the folks at This Day in History) almost got right! They seem to know the way most people get this wrong, and they avoid that: NEVER use “is comprised of”! That’s a pretentiousism. (You may say “is composed of” when appropriate. See the last rule below.)

The winning teams from those regions comprise the Final Four, who meet in that year’s host city to decide the championship.

But they still got it backwards. Here are the rules:

Use comprise when you start with the whole thing and then mention its parts. It means “is made up of.”

Use compose when you start with the parts (winning teams) and then say what they make (The Final Four). You may use “is composed of” if you have a need to put the whole thing first and the parts second and you don’t want to use comprise. So, “The ‘Final Four’ is composed of the winning teams from each region” is correct.

 

One for Two

rogersgeorge on August 21st, 2016

These folks had two chances to get some tricky wording correct. They got one of them right, anyway. Here’s the sentence, from a gizmag oops New Atlas architecture article:

Comprising 60,000 unique aluminum parts stacked into 31 layers, this incredibly complicated structure was inspired by scientific research into the health of honeybees and the role they play as pollinators.

Before you read the bullets, see if you can identify the two tricky words, and which one is used correctly.

Done? Okay, there they are.

  • Correct: comprise. I’ve mentioned this word often enough that if you’re a regular reader, you already know how to use this word. The pattern is the whole comprises its parts. And you never say “is comprised of.”
  • Incorrect: unique. Especially in a technical article, “unique” should mean “one of a kind,” not “unusual” or “interesting.” Judging from the sentence, 60,000 is hardly one of a kind, and judging from the picture, I see a lot of duplication, even if they aren’t all 60,000 of them the same. Still “interesting” does apply, I think.

The Hive is comprised of 60,000 unique aluminum parts stacked into 31 layers