comprise, constitute, compose

Comprise means “consist of”:

  • The opera comprises five acts.

Constitute and compose mean “make up, account for, form”:

  • The population of Ontario constitutes over 35% of the population of Canada.
  • Five small communities together compose (make up) the city of Kanata.

Note that the preposition of is used with the past participle composed but not with comprised. Avoid the phrase is comprised of.

  • Matter is composed of units called atoms.
  • Water comprises (not is comprised of) hydrogen and oxygen.

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