To consist in or consist of...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by maraba, Mar 3, 2007.

  1. maraba

    maraba Senior Member

    Hi again everybody.:)
    Actually, those two concepts are ones that still I can't quite understand.

    "Definition of intensive listening: consists of/in the total comprehension of the text (...)."

    Would you please explain to me briefly when to use one and another?
  2. consist of - to be composed or made up of
    consist in - how something works
  3. jess oh seven

    jess oh seven Senior Member

    UK/US, English
  4. marcolo

    marcolo Senior Member

    Bordeaux, France
    France, french
    Hello everyone :)
    I am a bit confused by "consist in"/ "consist of". On the French-English forum, there are some threads where english-speaking seem to not like "consist in" and systematically prefer "consist of", but sometimes they admit that "consist in" could be right. In, the two constructions are allowed depending on the use.

    To give you some matter of reflection (if I can say that), I give you the sentence I want to be correct

    The mass lumping technique consists in replacing the exact non diagonal mass matrix by an approximate diagonal one.

    So it is a kind of definition, and "consist in" should be the correct use, right ?
    Thank you for your help.
  5. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    Consists of.
  6. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Here's an excellent citation I found on another website:

    Consist in means “is inherent in or lies within”: His social success consists in being able to persuade everyone of his amiability. It usually occurs in sentences with singular subjects that consist in either singular or plural nominals.

    Consist of means “is composed or made up of”: His fleet consists of a day sailer, a canoe, and a small skiff. It usually appears in a sentence with a singular subject that consists of a plural group of nominals.

    The Columbia Guide to Standard American English.

    Here's a great quote from Mark Twain using "consists in":

    Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.

    I would say that your sentence makes sense with "consists in".
  7. la grive solitaire

    la grive solitaire Senior Member

    United States, English
  8. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    I would agree with La Grive: you need consists of here.

    At this site, the explanation is simple, but clear:
    Consist of: To be made up or composed: New York City consists of five boroughs.
    Consist in: To have a basis; reside or lie: The beauty of the artist's style consists in its simplicity.

    << -- not English -- >>
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2010
  9. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    You found the same web page I did, LGS. :)

    I still think it's "consists in". In the second section regarding the differences between the two, it says consists in means "'to be comprised or contained in (actions, conditions, qualities', or other things non-material)"

    The act of replacing is a non-material thing, an action. The technique is not made up of either a non-diagonal mass matrix nor an approximate diagonal mass matrix. The technique lies in replacing one with the other.
  10. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
  11. gringa303 New Member

    USA English
    I believe it is consists of
  12. marcolo

    marcolo Senior Member

    Bordeaux, France
    France, french
    Thank you all, I didn't think about looking for "consisting"...
    Very helpful those comments :)
  13. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I vote for "consists in" in this sentence because the technique is the replacing. With "consists of", I would expect steps in the process to be enumerated.
  14. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    Frankly, I have never heard "consist in", and I would never use it.
  15. Ms Missy Senior Member

    U.S. Virgin Islands
    USA English
    I had never heard of it either, but now that it's been brought to my attention as an expression that actually exists, I won't say that I would never use it ... especially in a context where the distinction was important.
  16. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    Yes, I was thinking about this on the way home last night and thought that I would use "consists of" if it were a process that had steps. Each step is an action but somehow a series of actions makes more sense to me with "consists of."
  17. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    I agree with both the choice and the underlying logic. That said, non-native learners should be aware that "consists/consisting in" is used in English with far less frequency than the of version, is fairly formal, and will sound odd to many native speakers. It should be used, therefore, with caution. It's a perfectly good term in the right place, but that is not apt to be colloquial discourse.
  18. cheerssss Member

    Hi everybody,

    I'm a bit confused as well...
    Do you think we could have examples to illustrate the difference??
    In advance thank u!!!

  19. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    << Moderator's note: This recent question has been added to an earlier thread on the same subject. >>

    We do not provide examples. Rather we discuss examples you provide.

    However, I have merged this thread with an earlier one. If you read from the beginning of the thread, you will see examples that have been provided by previous posters. :)
  20. moonlight7 Senior Member

    What would be an alternative to "consists in" in this case? Implies?
    The mass lumping technique implies replacing the exact non diagonal mass matrix by an approximate diagonal one
  21. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I don't think "implies" would be a good alternative. " applied by..." would work, in my opinion.
  22. moonlight7 Senior Member

    Thanks, JamesM!
  23. Harry-Potter

    Harry-Potter Banned

    Would the following question 'What does your work chiefly consist in?' trip off a native speaker's tongue? What I mean by this question is what do you do at work, what are your duties etc.? If not, what would be a better wording in this context? 'What does your work involve'? possibly?
  24. elena.schnabl New Member

    Very clear, thank you!
  25. Gabriel Malheiros Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    JamesM, if consist of means "composed of or made up of", why is "consist of" used in this following paragraph, and not "consist in"?

    (This is a translation of a text written in Portuguese)

    "The use of historical determinism in social sciences encompasses two problems: a philosophical one, which consists of questioning the validity of the thesis, and another one, more practical, of knowing whether we have the right to assert that we have found the laws of this determinism."

    Thank you
  26. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    For me, the object of "consists of" describes parts of the whole, whereas the object of "consists in" describes the whole.

    Since the whole is comprised of parts, a complete list of the parts works as the object of either "consists of" or "consists in". And "x consists in y" implies "y consists in x" because "consists in" essentially equates, but "x consists of y" does not imply "y consists of x".
  27. Gabriel Malheiros Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    Forero, what about when consist of/in is followed by a verb, like in the sentence I provided above?
  28. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    "Questioning the validity of the thesis" is a noun phrase (gerund phrase), not a verb. The philosophical problem consists of/in questioning the validity of the thesis. Questioning the validity of the thesis is both a part and the whole of the philosophical problem.
  29. Gabriel Malheiros Senior Member

    Portuguese - Brazil
    But why would you use "of"and not in?
    Thank you
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2016
  30. karlalou Banned

    The whole consists of (= is made up of) several parts.
    The parts consists (The meaning(s) of the parts lie(s)) in the whole.

    'of' means close to 'from'.

    According to what I've learned.

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