diction alert!

A manuscript reviewer points out: “Comprised of” is incorrect. And they’re right! Given my battles against related things like the use of “impact” as a transitive verb–I have, in the past, asked graduate students to refrain from this as a personal favor to me if nothing else–I am embarrassed to have been caught unawares.

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

7 thoughts on “diction alert!”

  1. I must disagree with my favorite prescriptive grammarian. “Comprised of” is the future, ask Webster’s. Viva la revolucion! Tell us, though, did the reviewer reject the manuscript for this perceived violation, or did he/she only chastise you for “sloppy editing, poor prose” etc and recommend the services of a professional ghost writing outfit? Because, you know, reviewers who focus on what really matters in a manuscript (and don’t understand the concept of “in-house copy editor”) are my true favorites.


    1. No, there wasn’t even a broader chastising of writing–more like a friendly little FYI. But it was in the actual letter from the editor, not some comment from the reviewer. I read it as borne from an irresistible didactic impulse.


  2. The Language Loggers have batted this one around a couple of times. Here’s Mark Liberman back in May:

    “In the entry for comprise [in MWDEU], you’ll learn that Ms. Stockton’s negative reaction to comprised of was widely shared by self-appointed usage experts in the 20th century, despite the fact that the OED documents comprise meaning ‘compose’ from the late 18th century onwards.”

    Full entry here.


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