Vocabulary Tips (어휘 팁): Comprise vs. Compose

Do you confuse “comprise” and “compose”? Check this post and know the difference between the two.

Source: Pixabay

According to Writing Explained,“comprise” and “compose” are two different transitive verbs whose meanings are closely related, and are therefore often confused.Their difference is subtle yet important, so it is worth knowing how to separate them from one another.

Comprise means:

  • to be made up of
  • to consist of
  • to include

On the other hand, compose means:

  • to make up the constituent parts of
  • to form the substance of something

With comprise, the whole comprises the parts, and with compose, the parts compose the whole. Hence, when we use these two verbs actively in a sentence, the subject for the former is the whole, and the subjects for the latter are the parts.

Look at these two sentences:

  • A pizza comprises eight slices.
  • Eight slices compose a pizza.

In the first sentence, we are saying that a pizza is made up of eight slices, while in the second sentence, we are saying that eight slices make up a pizza.

It is important to note that compose can be used both actively and passively in a sentence, but comprise can only be used actively,and not passively.Thus, it is correct to use the phrase “is composed of,” but it is incorrect to use the phrase “is comprised of.”

For example, we would not say:

  • The book is comprised of 12 chapters.

But rather, we would say:

  • The book is composed of 12 chapters. (passive voice)
  • Twelve chapters compose the book. (active voice)
  • The book comprises 12 chapters. (active voice)

To know more about this topic, click here.


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