Copyright 2013 Pacific Northwest Writers Association. All Rights Reserved
by Cherie Tucker
It’s summer, and it’s hot; learning this won’t tax you excessively. There is a difference between comprise and compose in both speaking and writing that many people are unaware of.
Comprise is a verb. The parts comprise the whole. In that sense, the “whole” is made up of, or contains, all of the parts.
Compose can also be verb, for example, if you are a musician and wish to write your own symphony. Your symphony will be made up of the parts you put together. It can be composed of several different rhythms and keys.
The key to remembering the difference in usage is to know that nothing is ever comprised of anything.
Lettuce and tomatoes only comprised the salad.
The salad was composed of lettuce and tomatoes only.
Cherie Tucker, owner of GrammarWorks, has taught writing basics to professionals since 1987, presenting at the PNWA conference. She currently teaches Practical Grammar for Editors at the University of Washington’s Editing Certification program and edits as well. GrammarWorks@msn.com.