Rules and Usage – Comprise and Compose

 In Rules and Usage

The definition of these two words show how comprise and compose are almost mirrors of the other in usage and meaning, even though they are so similar sounding.

Comprise and Compose -Definitions

The meaning of comprise  is  to contain.    The whole comprise the parts.
The team comprises eleven players.  or The team contains eleven players.
The dormitory comprises of 14 beds. Meaning that it contains 14 beds

Note: We don’t say comprise of  anything.  Comprise suffices as it means contains, and you do not say contains of!

The word, compose  means to make up or make.  The parts compose the whole.
Four sides compose a square.
Only two graves composed the cemetery

When you use “comprise,” you’re talking about all the parts that make up the whole.   THE WHOLE COMPRISES THE PARTS.  The sentence structure when using the word “comprise” is that whatever you mean by ‘the whole’ e.g. the team,  the dormitory is the first word or word phrase in the sentence.  It is followed, after the word ‘comprise’ by whatever are the parts of the whole.
The desk comprises 6 draws. The desk is the whole, and is first in the sentence and the parts follow. Always. It is incorrect to say 6 draws comprise a desk.

When we get the  meaning of the word ‘compose’ , we can see how comprise and compose are different.

The word, compose  means to make up or make.  THE PARTS COMPOSE THE WHOLE.
Four sides compose a square.

When using compose in a sentence, the parts precede the whole, in direct contrast to the structure of the sentence with comprise, when the word which means the whole precedes the word/s that mean the pasts.

When we get the  meaning of the word ‘compose’ , we can see how comprise and compose are different, almost mirrors of the other, even though they are so similar sounding.

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