February 15, 2008

Uncompromising and un-comprising

OK, I've seen this error multiple times today; I have to say something.

The verb "comprise" does not take the preposition "of."

"The company is comprised of three divisions." Wrong.
"The company comprises three divisions." Right.

Bill Walsh, in Lapsing Into a Comma, and Bryan Garner, in Garner's Modern American Usage, have already written eloquently on this subject. There's not really anything I can add. Except it appears not everyone is familiar with these books.

Walsh says, "This is such a chestnut in the picky-about-the-language biz that you'd think people would get it right by now, but they don't."

Garner summarizes it this way: "The whole is composed of the parts; the parts are comprised in the whole."

I think so many people have seen the erroneous "is comprised of" in print, they assume it's correct.

It's not.

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