In an attempt to impress his language arts teacher with his extensive vocabulary, Jordan said, “Four children, two parents, and a dog comprise my family.”
Unfortunately, Jordan failed to impress since comprise was used incorrectly. Comprise means contain or include; the whole comprises the parts, not the other way around. You could say, “Four children … make up my family” or “Four children ... constitute my family,” but not comprise.
If your heart is set on using comprise, start with the whole and then list the parts. To correct the “family” sentence above, simply switch the order:
My family comprises four children, two parents, and a dog.
Shun the temptation to use comprised of at all costs—it’s one of my pet peeves.
Here are some variations for further guidance:
In Major League Baseball, each league comprises 15 teams.
In Major League Baseball, each league is composed of 15 teams.
In Major League Baseball, each league is made up of 15 teams.
In Major League Baseball, 15 teams constitute each league.
In Major League Baseball, 15 teams make up each league.
And to top it off … the Professional Style archive comprises lots of helpful grammar tips.
Check out more writing tips below…
Search Tips by Topic
- Capitalization: Eponyms
- Comma – Restrictive/Nonrestrictive
- Compare to/with
- Could care less
- Daylight saving time
- Due to
- Every Day/Everyday
- Guess what/I wonder
- Hear hear
- Home/Hone in on
- I wonder/Guess what
Professional Style Monthly Subscription
Sign up to get Professional Style delivered straight to your inbox every month. It’s FREE, and you can’t beat FREE!