Consist of /comprise/be comprised of

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jinmin1988

Senior Member
Chinese
The team consists of four Europeans and two Americans.
Can I use “comprises” or “is comprised of” instead of “consists of” here? Are these three words changeable?


Thanks.
 
  • Gwan

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    You probably can use them interchangeably in everyday life, however, the OED notes the distinction between

    Four Europeans and two Americans comprise the team (=they make up the team)

    And

    The team is comprised of 4 Europeans and 2 Americans (=the team is made up of...)

    So I suppose, strictly speaking, you should use the active/passive forms in that way i.e. if the subject is the constituent members of the group, use the active 'comprises', if the subject is the group that is made up of such-and-such, then use the passive 'is comprised of'.

    I find 'comprise(d)' a bit more formal than 'consists of'. ('Consists of', however, is not especially informal.)
     
    I find 'comprise(d)' a bit more formal than 'consists of'. ('Consists of', however, is not especially informal.)
    I disagree. Ungrammatical or less-than-standard uses are never as good as more literate uses, and therefore could never be considered "more formal.'

    Many people do not consider "Comprise" and "Consist" to mean the same thing. For many people, Comprise means "include", but does not mean "compose". In the example given, it is certainly more formal to say "consist of" rather than "comprise"; there are people who would consider any use of "comprise" here to be incorrect.
     
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    Gwan

    Senior Member
    New Zealand, English
    I disagree. Ungrammatical or less-than-standard uses are never as good as more literate uses, and therefore could never be considered "more formal.'

    Many people do not consider "Comprise" and "Consist" to mean the same thing. For many people, Comprise means "include", but does not mean "compose". In the example given, it is certainlymore formal to say "consist of" rather than "comprise"; there are people who would consider any use of "comprise" here to be incorrect.
    I would refer these nebulous people, whoever they may be, to the Oxford English Dictionary definition of comprise. I quote:

    "To constitute, make up, compose."

    "pass. To be composed of, to consist of."

    That's fairly unambiguous in my book, and not remotely ungrammatical, non-standard or 'less literate' than any other usage. Whether or not you agree on the levels of formality is another debate.
     
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