Talking about the parts of something or how it is formed
- to talk about the whole and then all of its parts, we commonly use consist of:
The class consists of students from different parts of Asia.
The trip consists of visits to several cities in Tuscany.
- to talk about the whole and then only some of the parts, we use include:
The class includes many students from Vietnam and Laos.
The trip includes a one-day tour of Florence.
- The class consists of students from Vietnam, Laos and other Asian countries.
- The trip consists of visits to Florence and Sienna as well as other Tuscan cities.
Alternatives to consist of
- the whole consists of its parts
- the whole comprises its parts (formal)
- the whole is comprised of its parts (controversial)
- the whole is made up of its parts
- the whole is composed of its parts
- the parts make up the whole
- the parts constitute the whole
- the parts compose the whole (formal)
- the parts comprise the whole (controversial)
Active or passive?
Putting the whole first 1 - comprise
- The whole + comprises + all its parts (active)
The collection comprises 327 paintings (OALD)
The house comprises two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. (Longman)
The course comprises a class book, a practice book, and a CD. (Cambridge)
- The whole + is comprised of + all its parts (passive)
The course is comprised of ten core modules. (Macmillan)
The committee is comprised of well-known mountaineers. (Longman)
The class is comprised mainly of Italian and French students. (Cambridge)
- All the parts + comprise + the whole
Older people comprise a large proportion of those living in poverty (OALD)
Women comprise a high proportion of part-time workers. (Longman)
Italian students comprise 60 percent of the class (Cambridge)
Putting the parts first - make up, constitute and compose
- Women make up more than half of the workforce.
- Women constitute the majority of the workforce.
- Women compose sixty per cent of the workforce. (formal)
Note on compose
Putting the whole first 2 - is made up of / is composed of
- This book is made up of twelve separate short stories. (Macmillan)
- Muscle is composed of two different types of protein. (Macmillan)
Other uses of constitute
- to be something
We must redefine what constitutes a family.
- to be considered as something
this constitutes an invasion of privacy
In our opinion, this constitutes a breach of contract
The local election results constitute a clear setback for the government
- to form a group legally or officially (usually in the passive)
The committee was constituted seven years ago to address the problems of youth unemployment.
Other uses of make up
- We've managed to raise most of the deposit on the flat ourselves, and our parents are kindly making up the rest.
- With David and Sandra we made up a foursome for tennis.
Comprise and compose - the purist picture
- the whole comprises the parts
A football team comprises eleven players.
- the parts compose the whole
Eleven players compose a football team.
So should I just forget about comprise, compose etc?
A bit more on consist
Consist of doing something
- Most of the fieldwork consisted of making tape recordings. (Oxford Advanced Learner's)
- My role seemed to consist of standing and smiling at people. (Macmillan)
- Our campaign consists of making people aware of the urban environment.
Consist in something / doing something
- The beauty of the city consists in its magnificent buildings. (OALD)
- Happiness does not consist in how many possessions you own. (Longman)
- His poetry consisted in the use of emotive language. (Oxford Online)
- For her, happiness consists in watching television and reading magazines. (Cambridge)
Similarity between consist of and consist in
- The job mainly consists of classifying evidence. (Merriam-Webster Learner's)
- His job apparently consisted in sitting behind a little table outside the Minister's office. (Macmillan)
Adverbs that collocate with consist of / in
- essentially, primarily, principally
- entirely, solely
- chiefly, largely, mainly, predominantly,
Complete the gaps with suitable words from the box. Some are used more than once.
|1.||Apple pie of an outside pastry crust and an apple filling.|
|2.||Benelux Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.|
|3.||Romantic musicals a large part of Bollywood's output.|
|4.||Shakespeare's works Hamlet and Twelfth Night.|
|5.||Young professionals up the majority of our members.|
|6.||The high level of traffic on this road a real threat to cyclists.|
|7.||What is now England was once made of seven separate kingdoms.|
|8.||Soil is of four major components: minerals, organic matter, water and air.|
|9.||The process of caramelisation of heating sugar slowly to around 170 °C.|
|10.||If you two can put in £5 each, I'll up the rest.|
|11.||The building consists a central section and two wings.|
|12.||Its main advantage consists its simplicity.|
A couple of graphs
- We don't use consist in the passive, so don't say something is consisted of something.
The class consists of students from all over the world.
The class is consisted of students from all over the world.
- Don't confuse comprise with consist - consist is always followed by of, but we don't follow comprise with of (unless we use it in the passive) - you might hear some native speakers do this, but it is usually considered incorrect.
The band consists of three guitarists and a drummer.
The band comprises of three guitarists and a drummer.
- If you use composed in the passive, always follow it with of, not by or with.
The building is composed of a central section and two wings
The building is composed by/with a central section and two wings
More usage notes
- Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary - Usage notes
- Longman Dictionary - Usage notes
- World Wide Words - thoughts on comprise
- WSU Common errors -
- comprise and be composed of
- Lavengro - thoughts on comprise
- Grammar Girl - the tradionalist view of comprise
- Stack Exchange Forum - discussion on consist of / consist in